Gephardt's Secret Weapon? Michael Bolton

The Gephardt campaign is using middle-aged crooner Michael Bolton in a get-out-the-vote campaign: William J. Thompson, who is from Davenport, came to Gephardt's event ... after getting an automated phone call from singer Michael Bolton... "He said, 'Hope to see you there,' " said Thompson, 50, a fan of Bolton but not yet of any particular candidate. A few minutes later, he got another robo-call, this one from Gephardt. "I thought, 'Okay, what the heck? I'll go.' "

Like a rock star building suspense, Gephardt cooled his heels in a backstage room for 25 minutes after arriving. He was preceded to the stage by Bolton, who warmed up the crowd with a few perfunctory remarks ("I had to fly to Moline to get here, but I couldn't possibly say no"). The singer then launched into a song called "Go the Distance" (sample lyric: "It's an uphill slope/But I won't lose hope"), accompanied by a recording. He then fumbled with his sheet music and muttered, "I can sing another. It's your call."

The crowd, having waited so long for Gephardt, seemed indifferent to the notion. When Gephardt and his wife, Jane, finally made it to the stage, the room exploded with chants of "Dick and Jane!"

After Gephardt's speech, Thompson ... encountered Bolton behind the draped-off main room. ... A moment later, Thompson turned to a reporter nearby and said, 'I'm no longer undecided. I've decided I'm for Gephardt."