Actors Penn, Smollett campaign for Obama

Push college voting to turn tide of election

Video by Amanda Kelley | TV2 News

Actress Jurnee Smollett told about 80 students yesterday that this generation can prove the experts wrong about its lack of political involvement.

“They say we’re fired up now and that we’ve been fired up through the primaries, but at the end of the day we can’t close the deal – that we’re just talking,” she said. “You know what, I don’t believe them.

“I believe that what I’ve witnessed over the past few months in this campaign has been unlike anything we will ever see in our lifetime.”

Smollett and Kal Penn have spent the past few months traveling around the country on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama because of their passion for this election.

Smollett’s film credits include “The Great Debaters” and a recurring guest role as Michelle’s friend on “Full House.” Penn’s credits include “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and “Epic Movie.”

Penn said he is a registered Independent and has never before been involved in an election. Previously, he said he had a cynical view of government, particularly because federal lobbyists have impeded the political process.

“Obama only wants to owe favors to the American people, the folks who are voting,” he said, explaining Obama has never accepted any money from federal lobbyists. “Whether they vote for him or not is almost irrelevant; he wants to make sure he works for them.”

Jamil Barton, field organizer for Obama for America’s Kent office, said students have an opportunity to influence the election. In the 2004 presidential election, he said John Kerry lost in Ohio by about 118,000 votes.

Penn said there are more than 680,000 college students in Ohio.

“In order to win this presidential election, we have to win Ohio – there’s no more important state across the country in terms of being successful in the fall,” Barton said. “And in order to win Ohio, we have to win Kent State.

“We can’t just win Kent State, but we have to win it in a big way.”

Smollett said today’s generation is imperative to this election because it is the starting point for change.

“Without the youth, no real change can come,” she said. “If we look throughout history, we will see that it’s been when people like us have come together and have inspired each other that any real changes come.”

Sophomore psychology major Zakir Ghazi said although he does not volunteer for campaigns, that may soon change.

“I’m not too much into the volunteering with this kind of stuff,” he said. “The way they (Penn and Smollett) explained it just makes me want to be part of it.”

College Democrats president Jared M. Matthews said the actors drew students’ attention to the election.

“I think it’s important to let students know their vote matters and how imperative it is to give their time for this effort,” he said.

Matthews said the College Democrats will meet at 9 p.m. tonight in the Governance Chambers in the Student Center.

Contact student politics reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].