Hundreds of students forgot about classes Monday afternoon to watch actor Matt Damon host an Early Vote for Change rally for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
The rally began at noon at the UC Rock on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus.
The actor, who has become known for his outspoken disapproval for Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, gave a brief speech endorsing Obama for president and encouraging the crowd to vote early.
“This is a historic election. This is the election of our lifetime where the most is at stake,” Damon said. “Go out and get your friends and drag them to the polls.”
Even students who are not eligible to vote in the election attended the event.
“I’m here because I’m interested in politics and thought this was a good opportunity to learn more about the American culture,” said Matthew Walker, an exchange student from Australia.
“And I came because I have a bit of a man crush on Matt Damon,” said Walker’s friend Sam Sloane, also from Australia.
Meanwhile, buses parked at nearby Stanford Circle were available to transport early voters to Coral Gables Library, UM’s early voting site.
Kim Bowen, a sophomore, jumped at the convenient opportunity to cast an early ballot.
“To say that this is a really important election is an understatement. I just want to make sure that my voice is heard. You never know what might come up on Tuesday,” said Bowen.
Damon briefly explained his admiration for Obama’s plans regarding early childhood education and criticized President George W. Bush’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.
“These teachers are being forced to teach to a test. I was a horrible test taker,” said Damon, who is a graduate of Harvard University. “It’s all bullshit. The system is broken.”
Damon also supported Obama’s plans to provide universal health care and expressed his confidence in the senator’s foreign policy judgment.
“What we’re really trying to do is get a sense of what their decision making process is,” said Damon, referring to the candidates.
“[Obama’s] judgment, demeanor, grace under pressure and willingness to listen to people around him will make him the best president to ever serve the United States,” said Damon.
Carmen Johnson, a senior, said she was supposed to be studying for an exam but took a break to listen to the actor.
Johnson, a poll worker and volunteer for Get Out The Vote said, “I don’t care who you vote for, I just hope people get on those shuttles and vote early. There are no excuses this year.”