Ben Affleck (search) has made so many appearances during the Democratic National Convention (search), you'd think he was the one running for office.

Here he is making surprise breakfast visits to star-struck delegates from Arizona and Iowa, Missouri and his home state of Massachusetts. There he is joking with Boston Globe sports columnist and author Dan Shaughnessy on his way out the door of a "Rock the Vote" party behind Fenway Park's fabled Green Monster. (And he was inside the park, too, watching his beloved Red Sox defeat the dreaded New York Yankees, 9-6, during a nationally televised game Sunday night.)

Then there are the interviews — on " NBC's "Today" show and FOX News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor." He's even playing the role of interviewer himself for ABC News, asking Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (search) questions about Boston and his longtime friendship with Kerry.

But the star of the blockbusters "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon" — and the bombs "Gigli" and "Jersey Girl" — says he simply recognizes the power of his celebrity and wants to use it to help John Kerry get elected to the presidency.

"I seem lately to bring to with me, whether I want to or not, a certain amount of media attention," the 31-year-old actor told reporters Tuesday before a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at a bar outside Fenway.

"But I think you have to be smart and you have to be judicious and you have to be tasteful and you have to be respectful and you have to know your place," he added later. "I am not an elected official. I am not a political expert. I perceive my capacity here mostly in terms of being somebody who grew up here and wanting to be an ambassador for this city."

When a television reporter suggested that being good-looking, articulate and famous would make him a natural candidate for office, Affleck responded: "Uh, you know, that's a nice idea and I'm very flattered that you say it, but it's a tough fight, you know? I mean, if I think that the entertainment press is tough on me now, I can't imagine what it would be like to have a political agenda, as well."

It's not as if this talk comes out of nowhere. In an interview for the May 2001 issue of GQ magazine, Affleck said: "My fantasy is that someday I'm independently wealthy enough that I'm not beholden to anybody, so I can run for Congress on the grounds that everyday people — be they singers or poets or bankers or lawyers or teachers — should be in government."

"Not to get too Susan Sarandon on you," he added, "but part of what I'd get off on would be the oration, the speechmaking and the idea of leading."

He sure acted the part Tuesday, speaking volubly about tax cuts, health care and the war in Iraq. And he looked it, too, dressed in a navy blue suit, light blue shirt and light blue tie, with his hair jelled into a fashionable bed-head — as opposed to the slightly rumpled, goatee-and-Sox-cap ensemble he's been sporting lately at high-stakes poker tournaments.

He's also been putting his money down for presidential candidates. According to PoliticalMoneyLine.com, last year he gave $1,000 to Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign and $2,000 to retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who also attended the DNC fund-raiser.

There was no record of any donation to Kerry, the Massachusetts senator whom Affleck described as "an exceptional man — a man of character, a man of strength, a man of service, a man of determination and also a warm and understanding and compassionate guy."

He pointed out that he's not the only famous person singing Kerry's praises: Sean "P. Diddy" Combs — who, like Affleck, is an ex of Jennifer Lopez — is expected at the convention Wednesday. And we've already heard from such disparate celebrities as Natalie Portman, Richard Dreyfuss and Jerry Springer.

"And after it's all over," Affleck joked, "I'm going to go off quietly into the sunset and you'll never hear from me again."