Celebrities campaign for Obama at Kent State

Andrea Sinclair

Actors: College students have power to elect president

Actors Eric Balfour and Kal Penn speak to a crowd of Barack Obama advocates yesterday afternoon in the Kiva. The duo have been a part of a country-wide Obama campaign. DANIEL DOHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Instead of assuming their on-screen characters, actors Kal Penn and Eric Balfour spoke to students about the importance of the youth vote in Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.

Though they were 50 minutes late because of previous appearances at universities around Ohio, about 500 people stayed in the Kiva to listen to the celebrities’ speeches.

Rapper and actor Nick Cannon was scheduled to appear at the event but did not because of a time constraint.

Throughout his speech, Penn said college students have the power to elect a president. He gave an example of a friend who was saving money to attend college.

The friend, who drove a truck at minimum wage to earn money, was offered a much larger salary to drive a truck in Iraq for the private sector.

“It’s a really sad day for the richest country in the world when the only two options are minimum wage or $90,000 in a war zone,” Penn said.

Balfour agreed that young voters will be important in Ohio’s March 4 primary election.

“The youth in this country is the most powerful force,” he said.

Robert Mathias, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said he attended the event to support Obama and learn more about his campaign.

“I came to see Penn and Cannon, but he couldn’t come,” Mathias said.

Amy Kolenc, freshman nursing major, said the celebrity speakers sparked her interest, and she was impressed by their endorsements.

“I think hearing from people that are well-known catches one’s attention,” she said, adding that she learned about the Obama campaign from Penn and Balfour. “I learned about a variety of Obama’s views on health care, education and foreign policy.”

Penn, a registered independent who has never before publicly endorsed a candidate, stressed each of those subjects as reasons why he supports Obama. He also explained he became an Obama supporter when he heard the senator’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Balfour said that he supports Obama because he stands for what he believes.

“I’ve never known in my adult life the feeling that there are people in Washington who represent me,” Balfour said. “You have the opportunity in Ohio to make Barack Obama represent you.”

Penn is best known for his roles in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and the television show “House M.D.” Balfour has been in HBO’s television show “Six Feet Under,” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the television show “24.”

Contact College of Business reporter Andrea Sinclair at [email protected].