WOOSTER — Sean Astin was raised by a strong woman.
Then he married a strong woman and together, they are raising three strong daughters.
“And it’s high time,” Astin told a group gathered at Wayne County Democratic Party headquarters on Thursday, “that we elect a strong and powerful woman as President of the United States.”
Astin, whose movie credits include the title role in “Rudy” and who rose to fame as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, visited Wooster as part of an Ohio swing on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Astin has been a Clinton supporter since 1992, when she was First Lady of Arkansas and campaigning for her husband, Bill Clinton. Though he had voted for California Gov. Jerry Brown in the primary, he supported Bill Clinton in the general election.
So when his mother, the late Patty Duke, asked him to speak on Clinton’s behalf at rally at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he said he would.
Astin was just 21 years old then and recently married. And even though he’d already made a few films, he was in college at that time. “My wife and I were in community college and we were just talking about having kids and what kind of world do we want our kids born into.”
When he arrived at the rally, he was given some talking points, which he said he studied like an actor studies a script. He was set to speak before Hillary Clinton.
Astin spoke to 15,000 people gathered on the quad that day and was joined by actress Dana Delany and singer Michelle Shocked. Then Hillary Clinton stepped to the podium.
“She plants her feet. She takes the microphone and she thunders away,” Astin said. “She understood every issue, up and down, cold. I was absolutely mesmerized listening to this woman.”
And, he said, it occurred to him, “this woman should be President of the United States.”
This is the chance, Astin told the packed room, and never have the votes been more important. He said one of the last things his mother did before dying earlier this year was to cast her Idaho primary ballet for Hillary Clinton.
Republican candidate Donald Trump is not the man to lead the county. “I don’t need to go too far out of my way,” Astin said, “to explain what a catastrophe he is. He can do that all by himself.” And while Astin noted that Trump seemed to show some genuine concern when talking about the families of two black men shot and killed by police in North Carolina and Oklahoma, that doesn’t change the fact, he said, “he is absolutely unqualified for this job.”
He criticized Trump’s behavior during his trip to Mexico a month ago, as well as the way he turns every criticism of him toward Clinton. And the more the media begins to confront him on his lies, Astin said, “the more surrogates quadruple down with more scurrilous lies.”
But, Astin admitted, Clinton is not perfect. “She’s changed her position. She’s evolved,” he said. “She’s had to adapt to her political environment.”
And yet, he recalled meeting her after the Colorado rally in 1992. “She didn’t know me from Adam,” Astin said. “She probably hadn’t seen any of my movies. She was probably a little old for ‘Goonies,’ ”
When he asked her what he should say when asked about his political involvement, Clinton told him, “just tell them why you want to be involved.”
He gave the same advice to the group that filled Democratic HQ Thursday: Get involved and don’t get discouraged. “Despite the gridlock and obstructionism, the United States government gets a lot done and we shouldn’t be so dismissive of it.”
But the key, Astin said, is involvement, getting out to vote and signing others up to do so, too. Astin noted that when foreigners come to the U.S., study the Constitution and become citizens, that is a “sacred moment” for them. So, too, is the moment one American gets another American registered to vote. “When you register someone to vote,” Astin said, “that’s like the moment you become a born-again American citizen.”
Daily Record reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-287-1655.