"It's been proven that we have the power to make things cool, hot and sexy," Combs says. "Now we're going to make voting cool."
07/29/2004 at 04:00 PM EDT
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs admits he's not "the most politically savvy cat," but that's not stopping the rap mogul from hitting the campaign trail. Just as he's drawn millions of fans to his concerts, Combs is hoping to do the same for the polls this November with Citizen Change, a nonpartisan drive (with the slogan "Vote or Die!") aimed at young and minority voters – those he calls "the forgotten ones." PEOPLE recently caught up with Combs, who's collaborating with MTV and BET and is even planning to jet into swing states in the election's final hours, to talk about the candidates, the issues and "realness."
Why take action now?
Basically I'm trying to utilize my powers as a cultural, youth and minority leader to bring some energy to this. A lot of people think that we don't want to be involved. There are so many recording artists that don't know what to do. Citizen Change is giving them an outlet to participate.
Are most of your activists Democrats?
It's definitely fair to say that the majority of the team are Democrats, but it's even fairer to say that this organization I started – and believe me, I'm trying my best to get as many Republicans involved – will stay nonpartisan. The proof is going to be in my actions.
How about working with young Republicans?
The Republicans are no different than me, they're no different than you. They explained to me why they support Bush and why they believe that he's the person to lead the next four years. I digested the information. We did something (with) MTV, so the Young Republicans will have a voice just like the Democrats and Independents. That's the beauty of it – everyone can be heard.
Are you meeting with the President?
I have reached out to President Bush. I spoke to Ed Gillespie from the Republican party. He was very supportive. I don't know if Bush is going to call back but it's all good. I know it's hard being the President.
What about John Kerry?
I discussed with him that we have a community of young people and minorities that really need him and President Bush to pay more attention to (them). (I'm telling the candidates to) please go visit the communities, visit the schools, please do their jobs. I'm begging them to pay attention because these are the people who are going to decide.
What's the most important issue this year?
I don't think it's going to come down to one single issue. I think it's going to be whoever understands (who) the people are. I think whoever listens and relates more (will win). It's going to be down to the realness.