It’s Always Sunny in Oshkosh: A Q&A on stumping for Obama

Danny DeVito’s trollfoot made its mark on Oshkosh this weekend.

DeVito, along with his “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” costars Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton, and “Happy Endings” star Adam Pally, joined Obama supporters and volunteers (along with a few autograph-seekers who looked a little out of place) for a phone-banking effort on Saturday. The visit was part of the campaign’s statewide GOTV push in the final days leading up to the election.

Oshkosh Northwestern reporter Jessie Opoien spoke with McElhenney, Howerton and Pally for a few minutes before they trekked up to Green Bay for another GOTV event.

Politics Now: How did this tour come together?

Glenn Howerton: Rob has a friend named Tom Reynolds who works for the campaign. He contacted us, and it’s a close race, so he asked us if we were interested in getting involved in any way, to help reelect the president. And it just so happens that all of us are actually in support of President Obama, so we said of course we will, because it’s a tight race. He’s a guy that, we believe firmly in his policies, and we think he’s moving the country in the right direction, so we want to do whatever we can.

PN: Is Wisconsin the first place you guys have hit?

GH: Wisconsin’s actually the only place we’re going. I know there are other states that are up in the air, but we picked Wisconsin. It seemed like the right place. I haven’t been here before, so I was excited to check it out. We didn’t have a tremendous amount of time; we just finished shooting a show, and now there’s not much time left. So there’s really only one place we could go, so we chose Wisconsin. Plus, we like cheese.

PN: There is nothing wrong with liking cheese.

(Rob Mc Elhenney joins us)

We were just talking about why you’re in Wisconsin right now…

Rob McElhenney: I’m one of these odd stumpers for the president who — I’m an independent. And I don’t necessarily vote across party lines. In fact, I voted for many Republicans in the past. Not necessarily for the presidential ticket, but I have been known to go Republican. It’s because I make my decision based on the candidate, and not necessarily on the party platform. And in this circumstance, I voted for the president in 2008, but I think it’s only fair to give the opposition a shot. And I did as much research as I could, and I really, for the life of me, could not figure out what Mitt Romney stands for. And at the end of the day, if I can’t even understand what the platform actually stands for, then I don’t know how I could possibly vote for him.

PN: Well, what stands out to you on the Obama platform?

RM: I just believe he has the right vision for the country. I believe he cares about the 99 percent. I don’t believe in trickle-down economics. I think we’ve seen what trickle-down economics does for this country, and we’re still living in that nightmare. I think, if anything, if you look at, just two days ago when they released the most recent jobs report, at 171,000 jobs in October. We’re on the right track, it’s just going to take a little time.

GH: He’s digging us out of a deep hole. He’s trying to create jobs in an economy that’s slowly growing, but it is growing. And I want to vote for that guy. Not Romney. Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, his state ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation. So there’s a reason why—

RM: I think that bears repeating. The man who’s running for president, and the key to his platform — one of the most important aspects of his platform — is job creation. And when he was governor of Massachusetts, he was ranked 47th out of 50 in terms of job creation.

GH: It’s something we haven’t heard that much of.

Adam Pally: That means that Delaware was ahead of them.

GH: Yeah, right.

AP: And Delaware’s really tiny.

GH: It’s odd that we haven’t heard that more in this campaign. But I think it’s definitely worth noting.

PN: So what’s the value of — you guys brought a pretty sizable crowd here today. What are your thoughts on the “celebrity endorsement” deal?

GH: Well, we don’t really — I mean, look. Being a ‘celebrity,’ that just sounds so weird.

RM: I know.

AP: It sounds terrible.

GH: It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

RM: I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. I think of Danny [DeVito] as a celebrity.

AP: Yeah, I look at Danny as that.

GH: Yeah, Danny.

RM: I’m like, a dude who likes to go and drink beer, and maybe sometimes do a funny television show.

GH: Yeah, yeah, that some people recognize, but they have no idea what my name is. They know my character’s name, but not my name.

RM: Yeah, like, “Oh, yeah, I kind of recognize that guy.”

GH: No, but it gives me an opportunity to push my beliefs on other people, which is—

AP: Which is why anyone wants to be famous in the first place.

(laughter)

RM: No, it just — the fact that we happen to be actors and writers and directors, is almost irrelevant. We just happen to have an opinion just like every other citizen, and to imply, which I’ve heard — mostly from the right — that actors shouldn’t have an opinion, is ridiculous.

GH: Yeah, it’s absurd.

RM: A truck driver has an opinion. What’s wrong with an actor?

GH: I’m voting for higher taxes for myself.

RM: Yeah, that’s another thing. We’re a part of the 1 percent.

AP: Well, you guys are.

RM: Well, Pally’s not, yet. He’ll get there.

(laughter)

So in a lot of respects, we’re talking about voting against our own financial interests, because we know that that’s not what’s right for the country. We’re happy to give more, because we’ve been so fortunate. We don’t believe that we should have everything.

PN: So what message do you want to leave with people for the next few days?

AP: They should do whatever they can. Go door to door, canvass, call, volunteer. Show up at a place like this just to be around. I think energy is important. And the most important thing is voting. In the last election there was a certain groundswell that came up just from the new type of president that we could have, and you don’t want to lose that excitement. You don’t people to be apathetic towards this.

GH: You don’t want anybody to win by default.

AP: Yeah. Everybody needs to go and cast their vote.

RM: There’s a very good chance that this president will be appointing two Supreme Court justices. That shapes, not only policy for the next four years, but our culture for 40.

PN: Were you politically active before this election?

RM: Yes, but not to this degree. It just seems like this is a really, really important time, and I personally just want to make sure that everybody understands that and gets out and votes.

PN: Where else is on the tour?

GH: We go to Green Bay next. We’ll go to a Packer game — well, the tailgate, which is really the most fun.

AP: And then we’re gonna go to La Crosse.

RM: And Eau Claire. We’re all over the place. I love this state. It’s beautiful.

AP: (In a thick Wisconsin accent) I wanted to get to Kenosha, but I don’t know if we’re gonna get there, ya know?

About Jessie Opoien

Jessie Opoien joined the Oshkosh Northwestern as a reporter in December 2011. Politics and education issues are her specialties, but she loves to tell a good story regardless of the topic. You can find her on Twitter as @jessieopie.
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