NEW YORK (AP) – Hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is following the lead of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry by taking his get-out-the-vote campaign to the swing states.

“If you are going to play the game, you need to play it all the way,” Combs said in a telephone interview Saturday. “And if you talking about flexing your power, and you ain’t flexing in the swing states, then you ain’t flexing your power.”

P. Diddy started his nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative earlier this year, saying he wanted to use unconventional means to register thousands of young, minority and urban voters he says are overlooked by politicians.

The Citizen Change campaign has gone to college campuses, urban radio stations, barbershops, nightclubs – “anywhere this community of voters are,” Combs said.

Combs’ drive – with its “Vote or Die” slogan – has recorded phone messages for 435,000 new voters across the country.

The initiative also is deploying street teams to mobilize voters, distributing literature and providing troubleshooting for voters before the Nov. 2 election.

Neither Bush nor Kerry have addressed young and urban voters on issues such as jobs, health care and education, Combs said.

“To see one day when (the candidates) talk about the needs and concerns of young people, we have to make sure that we also put the pressure on them in the swing states to recognize that these are the people that are going to put them into office,” he said.

There are some 40 million eligible voters between ages 18 and 35, Combs said, a potent bloc that he says has been undercounted in polls and could be the deciding factor in a close race.

“The sleeping giant has awoken and the forgotten ones, this group of 40 million voters, are going to be the deciding factor because their votes have not been counted,” he said.


On the Net:

Citizen Change:

AP-ES-10-23-04 2202EDT

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