INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — "Field of Dreams" actor Kevin Costner returned to Iowa on Sunday to go to bat for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, pitching the small-town mayor as someone worth listening to in the crowded lineup of White House hopefuls.
"Whether your road leads you to Pete, like mine has, that's for you to judge," Costner, a self-described independent, told more than 1,000 people in the high school gymnasium of Indianola, a town of about 16,000 people south of Des Moines.
"When Pete speaks of unity, it's the kind of unity I've been waiting and hoping to hear about."
Costner, whose 1989 film offered a mixture of baseball and fantasy amid Iowa cornfields, noted the status of the state's caucuses as the first voting in the selection of a Democratic nominee.
"That power, that awesome responsibility, originates here on the ground in Iowa," said Costner, speaking in a low voice from a lectern and looking casual in jeans and a wind-breaker. "What you do with your vote is put those first seeds in the ground and see what grows next year."
It was Buttigieg, not Costner, who brought up "Field of Dreams." In a nod to his audience, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, didn't quote the movie's most famous line — “If you build it, they will come” — but a more crowd-pleasing bit of dialogue: "Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa." The candidate thanked the star for making "Iowa as heavenly as it can be on a December day."
Among those turning out to see the director and star of the films "Dances with Wolves" and "Open Range" and the lead in the current Paramount channel series "Yellowstone" was 76-year-old retiree Martha Cunningham. "I'd have come to see Pete. But seeing Kevin Costner, that's extra!" she said.
The appearance of celebrity endorsers marks a new phase in the Iowa campaign as the caucuses approach on Feb. 3. This month actress Rosario Dawson campaigned with her boyfriend, Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator and Buttigieg rival. Days later, former Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan was spinning with children at a downtown Des Moines ice rink touting her pick in the 2020 Democratic field, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.