Leading man Fishburne delivers a little Hollywood glamour to an unglamorous job

The Colorado Statesman

Laurence Fishburne visited Obama campaign centers along the Front Range this past Saturday, Oct. 27. He arrived at the Five Points office in Denver just after lunch without entourage, wearing a pair of worn blue jeans and a long sleeve Henley crew shirt. There was nothing particularly imposing about the man who played Morpheus in the Matrix films. At six feet and 225 pounds, he looks more like an aging athlete than a Hollywood leading man. Fishburne is traveling the final few weeks of the presidential campaign in order to encourage those swing state volunteers who really matter — the men and women consum-ing their shoe leather as they tramp door-to-door identifying and turning out Obama voters. Next up for Fishburne will be in Wisconsin and Virginia.

At least a hundred of the Obama ballot chasers were awaiting his arrival before hitting the streets with their afternoon walking packets. He slipped into the room almost unnoticed, before being escorted to the front of the room. Fishburne told the volunteers about his own history of political involvement, which began with his first ballot cast as an eighteen year old in 1980. Once he learned Ronald Reagan had won the election, he explained that he felt as if his vote had been cancelled out and he more or less dropped out of any further political participation for what he acknowledged was “…a very long time.” Then, he explained, “A volunteer, just like you, convinced me of how stupid that was — that I had a stake in our democratic process, that who our President is actually matters.”

Hollywood actor Laurence Fishburne, seated at right, is surrounded by Obama supporters at the Five Points campaign office in Denver on Oct. 27. Former state Rep. Rosemary Marshall, far right, is a mainstay at the local campaign, often serving as a second Mom to the volunteers.
Photo by Miller Hudson/The Colorado Statesman

He emphasized that Colorado volunteers need to drive this same message home with the voters they talk to.
“Grab them by the hair and drag them to the polls, if you have to,” he urged to a mixture of laughter and applause. Echoing the national campaign theme, Fishburne went on to say that the President deserved a chance to finish the job he has started. “Things are getting better, people are going back to work and we need to remind voters of that,” he added. His comments ran no more than fifteen minutes, when he stopped to pose for pictures, shake hands and give a brief interview to FOX 31. Then Fishburne was off to the ballot drop and barbecue party scheduled for Skyland Park in North Park Hill.

The Obama ground operation in Colorado has been cranking away below the radar since early last summer. More than a hundred thousand new voters were registered with little notice, and computer algorithms are identifying most likely Democratic voters now being pursued to the gates of hell or until they cast their ballot, whichever comes first. If this election proves as close as it appears it will, it may be the long days and late nights put in by the young men and women who are devoting their time and talents to Obama’s campaign that tip the scales.

Former state representative Rosemary Marshall is a regular and second Mom to many of these volunteers who frequently labor until 4:00 a.m. entering canvassing data into the system. “I’m amazed at the hours they put in,” she observed, “you have to be young to do it.” The community organizer in the White House has never lost sight of the importance of that knock on the door and the face-to-face conversation with a voter that can secure his or her support.