After touting Keegan-Michael Key’s support for Pete Buttigieg, the campaign told CNN later Saturday that the actor will now appear at the Buttigieg campaign events simply to encourage early voting and voter registration – not officially endorse the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor as the Democratic candidate for president.
“Keegan-Michael Key will be attending events this weekend, including Pete’s rally tomorrow, to encourage early voting and voter registration across the state in advance of the Nevada caucuses,” Buttigieg spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement, adding: “Pete’s campaign is excited for the voter registration support Mr. Key brings, although Keegan-Michael has not officially endorsed any candidate.”
The campaign first told CNN that Key was set to announce his support for the former mayor in Nevada, appearing at early voting locations Saturday before joining a canvass kick off in Las Vegas, and introducing Buttigieg on stage at the rally. The campaign later walked back the support comment and said Key has not officially endorsed any candidate.
“With his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging talent in both comedy and drama; Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer, actor, and producer Keegan-Michael Key is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand forces,” the Buttigieg campaign told CNN earlier Saturday.
Key isn’t new to politics.
In his Comedy Central Show “Key and Peele,” which ran for five seasons, Key and his comedy partner Jordan Peele featured a recurring sketch parodying former President Barack Obama and his “anger translator,” Luther, portrayed by Key, a man who was able to express the irritations Obama felt, but was unable to convey as President. The sketch was so popular that Key, in character as Luther, joined Obama onstage at the 2015 White House Correspondent’s Dinner to help deliver Obama’s remarks.
Key endorsed Sen. Doug Jones, when Jones ran as the Alabama Democratic nominee for US Senate in the 2017 special election.
In 2016, the actor expressed ambivalence when asked if he’d lampoon then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“We’ve almost reached the point of the sublime,” Key told the Huffington Post at the time. “It’s so ridiculous we’ve almost reached the point of the sublime – in regards to the political landscape right now. I’m not sure Jordan and I could make what’s happening any funnier.”
Buttigieg has picked up a number of celebrity endorsements. Actor Kevin Costner – the star of “Field of Dreams” and “Dances With Wolves” – endorsed the former mayor in Iowa in December, and singer and actress Mandy Moore and actor Michael J. Fox have stumped for Buttigieg in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.
Buttigieg has also gained the support of three former Obama administration officials and has earned a number of congressional endorsements, including from Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa, Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland, retiring Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York and Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia.
UPDATE: This headline and story have been updated to reflect the Buttigieg campaign’s statement that Key has not officially endorsed any Democratic candidate for president.