This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: Now we're talking about the youth vote which could make all the difference in this year's election. Eighteen to 29 year olds are coming out in huge numbers this year. According to the non-partisan group Rock the Vote, the number of 18 to 29-year-olds who voted in the primaries this year is up — get this — 103 percent from previous primaries.
So, what does this mean for the election?
We are joined right now by hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons, and he has endorsed Barack Obama but is also launching a public service announcement to get all young people out to vote.
Welcome there. Let me ask you, campaigns like this have come out in the past where they've talked about getting young people out to vote, but it's sort of failed to really get young voters in large numbers out to vote. Why do you think this might be different?
RUSSELL SIMMONS, BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, I think that four years ago we did have a significant turnout. At first it was reported that we didn't, but in the end, we know that's (INAUDIBLE).
NAUERT: Not like this year.
SIMMONS: Well, no, it's true. This year, they've been inspired. And, you know, they've had a tough time, all of us have in America. And young people have good vision and, I think, that they're excited about this upcoming election.
NAUERT: Do you think that they will actually turn out in November, because they often say they do — and they have in the primaries as we just mentioned — but will they actually turn out in November?
SIMMONS: I'm sure they're going to turn out. I'm going to go to the Democratic convention and speaking at the keynote address at the yoga convention, which is sponsored by DNC and also at the hip-hop convention. And I remember when I went four years ago, and it was difficult to get the celebrities and these young inspirations out, but now it's difficult to find places for all of them to speak. And.
NAUERT: Sure. Well, a lot of them, of course, have endorsed Barack Obama. Any of them is going for Republicans?
SIMMONS: None that I know.
NAUERT: But why is that?
SIMMONS: Well, I think, young people are inspired by Senator Obama's candidacy. He represents something new in America. They want more progressive ideas, I believe. And the I think the ideas about conflict resolution, about the poor, about the environment, about foreign policy, about corporate control of our domestic and foreign policy — I mean, these kinds of things are — for young people — are very important, and I think they're going to vote on these issues.
NAUERT: They're idealistic. Let me ask you about some of these rap artists, Ludacris, for example.
SIMMONS: Yes, idealistic.
NAUERT: Yes. Ludacris, for example, slammed Hillary Clinton. He had that song that rhymes with witch. I won't say what it was on TV but he talked about McCain, he said that McCain belongs in a chair if he's paralyzed, and he says that Bush is mentally-handicapped. Are you concerned that it hurts Barack Obama with independents with some Democrats that artists take these really extreme viewpoints?
SIMMONS: Well, if you keep — if you keep assigning all of the statements of the supporters of Senator Obama to all these statements to him, then it could be have some weight, but we don't — you know, there are many conservatives who have made — and many reverends and others who have made statements and said — McCain has accepted them and embraced them and not denounced them, and I don't blame him for what they say. And I don't think we should blame Senator Obama for what the music artist says.
You know, rappers, their job is to say what's being discussed at the dinner table, things that maybe you don't say to Congress but you say to your community.
SIMMONS: And so.
NAUERT: Russell Simmons, thank you so much. I'm afraid we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us.
SIMMONS: Well, thank you for having me.
NAUERT: We look forward to following you what's going on (ph) on the youth vote.
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