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U.S. Presidential election: Cristiano Ronaldo gives Obama star billing

By Piers Edwards, CNN
November 6, 2012 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Cristiano Ronaldo, who says he admires Barack Obama's communication skills and honesty, has scored 16 goals in just 12 games for Real Madrid this season. Cristiano Ronaldo, who says he admires Barack Obama's communication skills and honesty, has scored 16 goals in just 12 games for Real Madrid this season.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says he would vote for Barack Obama if he could
  • Portuguese joins former Manchester United colleague Wayne Rooney in choosing Obama above Mitt Romney
  • Romney camp is backed by Jack Nicklaus, Jim Courier and John Elway among others

(CNN) -- The U.S .Presidential race is going down to the wire and with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney looking to sway those undecided voters, the U.S. president has secured the backing of an unlikely supporter -- Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid star is widely seen as one of the two greatest footballers on the planet at present, along with Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, and knows what it takes to win, with a trophy cabinet boasting medals for the Champions League, the English Premier League as well as the Spanish League and Cup.

Never afraid to seek the limelight, the Portuguese joins former Manchester United colleague Wayne Rooney in outlining how he would exercise his vote in the U.S. elections should he have one -- with both men identifying with the White House's current resident.

"I like the way he speaks with people, his communication -- I think it's always firm what he says -- and I would like to meet him because he's an honest person," Ronaldo exclusively told CNN.

Last month, England star Rooney revealed a hitherto-unseen political interest after the third and final televised debate between the Democrat and Republic candidates.

"Watched all the presidential debates. If I had to vote, would vote Obama," tweeted Rooney, who has over five million Twitter followers.

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Neither Rooney nor Ronaldo can vote in the elections given their nationalities but Obama can count on some similarly heavyweight sporting figures back home -- with baseball legends Willie Mays and Hank Aaron having both pledged their support to the Democrat.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston has been one of the largest donors to the Obama campaign, pledging $73,000, while Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and the legendary Michael Jordan were among a bevy of NBA stars who participated in August's 'Obama Classic', a fund-raising basketball event which drew a host of stars.

Celebrity endorsement

Despite the credentials of those standing behind their man, a leading Professor of American Studies warned that the impact of such celebrity endorsement is far weaker now than it has been in years gone by.

"The candidates are hoping to grab a bit of airtime, free advertising in effect, through these stars but there are so many different channels of information that this gets diluted now," says Alabama-born Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham in England.

"There has just been so much more to focus on at this election, in that it has been such a close race. The stars can create a bit of a ripple, and it's a nice talking point, but it's not the same as it was 20 years ago when the Hollywood left used to make an impact.

"Today, the biggest celebrity is (former U.S. President) Bill Clinton and when he came out this weekend he got the type of treatment that is usually reserved for sports and entertainment celebrities -- the issue for the Republicans is that they have no one to match Clinton's impact."

Romney supporters

That may be, but Republican candidate Romney does have the backing of one of the biggest sporting icons in United States history -- former golfer Jack Nicklaus, whose tally of 18 Majors is still unsurpassed.

Now 72, Nicklaus -- who rallied Cincinatti Bengals fans to vote for the Republicans ahead of their game this weekend -- could help Romney in the key voting state of Ohio, where the 'Golden Bear' lives.

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Other leading sports figures backing Romney are fellow golfer Rickie Fowler, tennis' four-time Major winner Jim Courier, legendary NFL quarterback John Elway and Mike Eruzione, who captained the U.S. to 1980 Olympic glory following the famous Miracle of Ice win over the Soviet Union.

"It has been over 10 years, so many of you may have forgotten, but in 2002, due to bribery scandals and mismanagement, the Olympics - not just those Games - but the Olympics as an institution - were threatened. Thankfully, Mitt Romney was there, to salvage a desperate situation," Eruzione said of a man who helped restore some order to Salt Lake City's controversial hosting of the Winter Olympics.

"Just like the Olympics needed Mitt's leadership 10 years ago, America desperately needs Mitt Romney's leadership today. Please join me in making him the next President of the United States!"

Read: How the NFL left soccer in the dark

On Monday, both Obama and Romney spent the final hours of the campaign making a mad dash through battleground states in a late push to sway a closely divided electorate ahead of Tuesday's election.

In a final 24 hours, Obama and Romney -- or their campaign surrogates, including their wives and the vice presidential candidates -- are scheduled to make stops in Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

The push comes as national polls show the race is tied.

A new CNN poll showed 49% support for Obama and 49% for Romney.

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