Skater Michelle Kwan campaigns for Joe Biden in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — With a Joe Biden campaign button pinned on her blouse, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan smiled and posed for pictures Thursday on a busy walkway in the middle of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.
Kwan’s visit kicked off what’s likely to be a parade of celebrity appearances in swing state Nevada through the November 2020 presidential election on behalf of candidates.
Kwan, a five-time world champion and nine-time U.S. champ, is more than a famous face appearing on behalf of the former vice president.
The skating legend has taken on a paid role overseeing the celebrities and other famous faces who will appear on Biden’s behalf as he runs for the White House.
She similarly worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and in the U.S. State Department after retiring from competitive skating in 2006.
Nevada, a politically competitive battleground and early presidential voting state that’s a short flight from Hollywood, has seen a procession of famous faces stumping for politicians in recent election years.
Jimmy Kimmel and Brandon Flowers of the band The Killers made appearances in Las Vegas last fall for state Democrats. In 2016, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Katy Perry and John Legend appeared in Nevada for Clinton, while Susan Sarandon rallied for Bernie Sanders and actor Donnie Wahlberg stumped for Marco Rubio.
After appearing at the university, Kwan, 39, was expected to meet Thursday with members of the Las Vegas Asian American and Pacific Islander community and young Democrats, along with hosting a watch party for the Democratic debate in Houston.
In front of a tent at UNLV decked with Biden signs and a poster that read “Welcome Michelle Kwan,” the skater chatted with a handful of students who stopped by to register to vote, pick up Biden stickers or doughnuts and coffee.
Several students, who were in elementary school when Kwan stopped competing, admitted they didn’t know who she was, but some asked to pose for a picture with her anyway.
Kwan acknowledged that in an interview, saying she didn’t expect the students to necessarily know who she was but she wanted to be one more voice engaging them about the debate and coming election.
“Maybe they’re not certain who they’re going to vote for, but that’s OK. It’s starting a conversation,” she said.
Freshman Judie Olibrice, who posed for a picture with Kwan, said she’s planning to cast her first vote next year for Biden because she thinks he’s the candidate who is mostly likely to defeat President Donald Trump.
“My parents say that he could be a good shot,” the 18-year-old said of Biden. “I still haven’t done my full research for him, but I feel like, you know, if my parents see he could be a good fit, might as well vote for him too.”
Freshman Nathan Allison, who said he stopped by the tent after noticing the crowd around Kwan, said he knows he will vote for a Democrat in 2020 but hasn’t settled on which candidate he’ll support. He said Biden is among his top choices, along with Sanders.
“I think that he could be a very good president,” he said. “There’s a lot of options there, and I think he’s one of the best ones.”