warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Actor Kal Penn Campaigns For Barbara Boxer At USC

Laura J. Nelson |
October 26, 2010 | 6:15 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Melissa Fitzgerald (West Wing) and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar) — Laura J. Nelson
Melissa Fitzgerald (West Wing) and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar) — Laura J. Nelson
Apathy is what will endanger the November elections the most, actor Kal Penn said during a rally for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Tuesday night at USC. 

Penn, joined by California Senator Curren Price (26th District) and West Wing actress Melissa Fitzgerald, urged USC students to get passionate about politics, get out the vote and devote themselves to public service. 

The discussion was held at USC's Ronald Tutor Campus Center and organized by the USC College Democrats. The latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll shows Boxer leading former HP CEO Carly Fiorina by eight points, but the speakers said the race is still close enough that the youth vote will make a difference.  

"These are going to be close elections," Price said. "The races will be decided by those people who are undecided, in the middle - and many of them are your age."

The crowd seemed pro-Boxer, applauding as the speakers praised her and booing whenever Republicans were mentioned. Many audience members had made more than 300 calls for Boxer at a phone bank in the hours before the forum.  

Price, Fitzgerald and Penn talked Boxer up by emphasizing the importance of youth involvement in politics and pushing the pro-Boxer students in the audience to get out the vote. They both said they got into political campaigning not for the politics, but because of the public service they felt they provided.

Penn also spoke during President Obama's rally at USC last Friday. Penn is best known for his role as Kumar Patel in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," but left Hollywood during the 2007 writer's strike to work for Obama in Iowa. He worked for more than a year in the Obama White House as an associate director of public engagement.

Penn encouraged students to bring 10 other students with them to the polls on Nov. 2, and Fitzgerald recommended hosting a party to untangle the ballot and what it means.

Although the rally supported Boxer, Penn reminded the audience that younger voters need to remember to reach across the aisle.

"We have a lot more in common than the media, or even we, give ourselves credit for," Penn said. "The longer it takes us to realize we have things in common, the longer it will take us to resolve important issues."

Penn acknowledged that Republicans and Democrats may never agree on hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. But he said progress can be made if people approach politics in a level-headed way.

"It's silly to think that just because we don't agree, the other side doesn't care about the country, because they do," Penn said. "It's important to keep politics part of our everyday conversation."


Reach staff reporter Laura J. Nelson here. Or follow her on Twitter: @laura_nelson.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.