Cynthia Nixon, the 42-year-old “Sex and the City” co-star, traded cosmopolitans and Manolo Blahniks for a microphone and a podium last Sunday when she came to the University of Miami to rally support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
“Never before had I become involved with a political campaign, spoken on behalf of a candidate or donated the maximum amount of money allowed,” said Nixon of her support for Obama. “But I did all three of those things in the past month.”
Nixon, who came to South Florida last weekend to campaign for Obama, also hosted an event at the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transexual (GLBT) Vote Center in Broward.
Nixon spoke to a crowd of approximately 60 students at the School of Business’ Storer Auditorium about her views on the importance of voting and the impact that women’s issues will have in the coming election. Nixon’s last minute appearance was confirmed on Wednesday afternoon though a time was not finalized until Thursday morning. According to junior Jason Stevens, president of the UM Young Democrats, around 2,000 flyers were made and distributed on campus in order to publicize the event, which was part of a weekend of rallies for the Obama Campaign in South Florida.
“We are the majority; more women vote than men and it’s just a big group to go after and I think they realize that it’s a group you can’t ignore,” said junior Lindsey Cartee, secretary of UM Young Democrats.
Student members of different organizations on campus were also notified of the event through e-mails from their respective officers. Caitlin Liston, a junior, said that she found out about the event through an e-mail sent Thursday by the UM Young Democrats.
During her speech, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, Nixon contrasted both candidates’ views on issues that affect women nationally, including sex education in schools, abortion and equal pay for equal work.
“When I was a kid I used to love Westerns,” Nixon said. “There was a good guy and a bad guy and the good guy would win and ride off into the sunset. As I grew up, I realized that life is more complicated than that. But in this election, it really is that simple; there is one good guy and one bad guy.”
Nixon, who has been in a same-sex relationship, also addressed the issue of same-sex marriage and the importance she sees in defeating Amendment 2, which would define marriage as the union between a man and a woman in the constitution of the state of Florida. She encouraged the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to make their voices heard not only by voting against the amendment but by going out to vote on Election Day. She also contrasted both candidates’ position on the issue of same-sex marriage, noting that Obama supports civil unions with all the rights of marriage while Republican Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain would want to have an amendment passed in the national Constitution similar to the one being discussed in Florida, Nixon claimed.
In her Q and A session with the students, Nixon also spoke about the running mates in both tickets. Responding to a question about Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, she said that McCain chose her not only because she’s a woman and would draw support from that group, but also because she is deeply religious. Of Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, she quoted him as saying that his proudest achievement was the authorship and passage of the Violence Against Women Act.
“I would rather have a man who is pro-woman and who is fighting for our rights, than a woman that is actually doing her best to take them all away,” Nixon said.
“I think it’s a gimmick to get the women’s vote,” added Cartee on the topic of Sarah Palin’s bid for the vice presidency.
Of not choosing Senator Hillary Clinton as his running mate, Nixon admitted that she had no knowledge of what led Obama to make that decision. She took the opportunity then to address Clinton’s supporters whose vote is undecided.
“If Hillary is your girl,” said Nixon. “Think about what she would want you to do. Hillary would want you to vote for Barack Obama.”
Nixon also said that while she was an “Obama girl” from the beginning, her character in “Sex and the City,” lawyer Miranda Hobbes, is a Hillary supporter.
Other topics addressed during her conversation with the students were healthcare, cancer and stem cell research, the environment and the war in Iraq.
“[Obama] is for stem cell research, which is the foundation for finding a cure,” said senior Nick Ciletti who, like Nixon, is a cancer survivor. “It’s so disheartening to me that there’s someone in office right now that isn’t working for something that I believe in.”
On the topic of student voters, Nixon encouraged participation on Nov. 4. She cited Obama’s age difference compared to McCain, and the fact that he has two small daughters as the cornerstone of the candidate’s concern for funding education and making college an affordable option to low income students.
“I think we care about the war in Iraq because we have friends going in,” said Cartee on the issues that concern the student demographic. “We care about the economy because we’re all about to get jobs and as a woman, I think we care about pro-choice being on the forefront of anyone’s campaign.”
So far, two high profile celebrities have led rallies on campus on behalf of the Obama campaign, in addition to an appearance by Obama, who made a campaign stop at the Bank United Center. The UM College Republicans are working to get the same kind of publicity for their candidate on the university’s campus. They organized convention watch parties, set up tables on the UC breezeway and volunteer for the McCain campaign in Florida. They also have events coming up that include speakers, debates, and watch parties co-sponsored with on campus organization Get Out The Vote.