Kal Penn and his fave presidential candidate, Barack Obama
, best known for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
and Fox's House
, now has a new role — campaigner extraordinaire. The actor has made several appearances in Iowa and elsewhere to support Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Here's TV Guide's exclusive interview with Penn from the campaign trail.
TV Guide: How's the world of politics different than Hollywood?
Kal Penn: I certainly can't speak for the entire political world, but one of the greatest differences seems to be the sheer numbers of people who have sacrificed a lot in their lives to do something good. It's really inspiring to see — medical and law students taking a year or two off, high school and college students volunteering and interning for Barack's campaign, and people who work very long hours because they'd like to do something for the greater good. The world of politics with Obama seems much less self-serving than Hollywood can sometimes be.
TV Guide: What's your favorite story about hanging with Obama?
Penn: That's easy: his integrity behind-the-scenes. We've all seen Senator Obama when he's spoken to 5,000 people, but what's great is that when CNN and ABC leave the stadium, when all the people get back in their cars and head home, Senator Obama is seriously the same person in the remaining room of five people that he was in the stadium of 5,000. He's the real deal: the funny, smart, experienced, eloquent, and honest guy you see on TV is the same in real life. That integrity is incredible. Who's like that anymore?
TV Guide: Did you feel upstaged once Oprah joined the campaign?
Penn: [Laughs] I don't think that Oprah and I have quite the same fan base! I think that Oprah's efforts are really a testament to the opportunity that lies before us to change our country for the better. She has never campaigned for a candidate before. Neither have I. We know she's had a hard life before she "made it big." She's seen incredible inequality and awesome success. So her getting so involved really means something, there's a real reason behind it, a real understanding, I think, of how we can make our world a better place.
TV Guide: What's your goal for the campaign? How do you hope you can help?
Penn: I hope I can help younger voters understand the power that we have. People aged 17 to 25 make up a huge demographic for media folks; we already know that. YouTube makes $7.5 million in ad revenue every month. MySpace just sold for something like $580 million, and Facebook, which started out worthless, is now valued at $1.6 billion. Our generation has created this wealth for these companies just by sitting in front of our computers — and that's great. But just think of how much power we have beyond that. If we can make Facebook $1.6 billion, just think of how deeply we can impact a presidential election, and how much we can change the fate of the free world. Two families have controlled the White House for the last 20 years. Despite their great intentions, they haven't been able to solve much. We are still having debates over how to solve healthcare, education, national security, and immigration. If high school and college students get involved, caucus and vote, we can finally solve them... in my opinion, by electing Senator Obama.
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