Pre-election Q+A with actor Matt Damon

Matt Damon joined students of the University of Miami to host an Early Vote for Change rally on the UC Rock at the University of Miami yesterday.

Damon is in South Florida with his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, to support Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign and encourage students to vote early. 

After the rally, members of the media swarmed the Faculty Lounge of the Business School trying to get a glimpse of the famous actor. The Miami Hurricane was able to get an exclusive one-on-one interview.

The Miami Hurricane: When did you first endorse Obama?

Matt Damon: I first endorsed him publicly December 2006 on Hardball, the Chris Matthew’s show.

I’ve had an enthusiasm to get the vote out. I don’t worry about my career suffering. I just feel so strongly about this election, about this particular man.

TMH: Why is early voting so important?

MD: It’s good to have early voting because if there is any complication you can get it fixed and have your vote count because this very well could be [a close race] and we’ve learned our lesson, particularly in Florida. I want to see the biggest turnout possible.

TMH: What are the real issues at hand? Which issues should college students specifically be focusing on?

MD: Number one is the economy because this is the world you’re about to go into after school and you’re presumably not going into the highest income bracket right away. [In Obama’s plan], 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut. If you make $250,000 or less your taxes will be cut and I think that’s an important thing for the new work force to see, that you’re going to get support. If you’re in my bracket, you’re going to pay a few extra percentage points. Nobody likes paying taxes, but you’re getting something for your taxes. In Obama’s case, he’s not going to be giving hundreds of billions of dollars to oil companies.

The other is our standing abroad. Our image has deteriorated significantly under [President George W. Bush]; I can tell you that personally as someone who travels all the time works outside the country. It’s incredible that with all the great work that Americans are doing all over the world that we have such a bad image it shouldn’t be like that and its like that because of his muscular foreign policy and quite frankly the horrible decisions that George Bush and Bush Administration have made.

TMH: How much influence do you feel you have as a celebrity? How does endorsing a candidate affect those students who are undecided here at UM?

MD: Ultimately, I don’t know if celebrities getting involved changes anything, but if our voices resonate to get one person to look at the issues- I’m not telling anybody who to vote for. I’m telling you who I’m voting for, but I hope that people just look at the issues and get involved: go to the websites of each candidate and read their platforms. Take 20 minutes a day because everybody’s vote counts, particularly here in Florida. This state could very well decide the election.