By Susan Davis, USA TODAY
CHARLOTTE - Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., isn't the only one channeling Paul Ryan these days.
Gossip blogger and TV personality Perez Hilton will take on the vice presidential nominee in his debut this weekend in NEWSical, the off-Broadway musical that features a revolving cast of performers skewering the news and the people in it.
"I get to play myself, I get to play some fictional characters and I also play some real-life people, and one of those people that I play is Paul Ryan," he told USA TODAY in an interview at MTV's Rock the Vote party at the Democratic National Convention. Hilton said he channels Ryan this way: "I have a really good wig. I do a few push-ups and I run a marathon in 90 seconds backstage."
Hilton has advocated for liberal causes and Democratic candidates - he was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008 - but he said he doesn't view himself through one political prism. "I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. I'm a realist," he said.
Heather Smith, the president of MTV's Rock the Vote, said Hilton has been one of the more engaged celebrities in the voter registration program since he first became involved about five years ago. Launched in 1990, Rock the Vote has registered about 5.5 million young voters. For 2012, the goal is 1.5 million new voters. So far, it has registered about 400,000, she said.
Perez, an openly gay, first-generation Cuban American, said he first registered to vote as a Republican, but he has trended toward Democrats for their positions on the issues that drive him to the ballot box. "Not everybody cares. I care because I'm a selfish person --selfish in that there are a lot of things that affect my life directly," he said. "I care about issues of inequality, whether that be gay issues or Latino issues."
Hilton, however, said he'd love to see a bipartisan or independent national ticket one day- and he's holding out hope that Clinton will seek the Democratic nomination in 2016. "We need more options," he said. "Hillary and Colin Powell. Oh my God, that would be amazing. Can you imagine that?"