Actor Kal Penn —of Harold and Kumar fame— made a big splash on the political scene four years ago when he back-burnered his Hollywood career to stump for Barack Obama, then took a job in the White House. And now, with the presidential election less than 100 days away, Penn is back. And unlike many young voters who were mesmerized by Hope and Change in '08 only to be let down by the realities of governance, Penn says his enthusiasm for the president hasn't waned.
The actor, a national co-chair for the Obama campaign, told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday that four years ago, he was fired up because he had friends who couldn't afford college, compatriots serving overseas in a dangerous war zone in Iraq, and gay friends who couldn't serve openly in the military due to Don't Ask Don't Tell.
"Now we're out of Iraq, bin Laden has been taken care of, my buddies can afford college, jobs are coming back to the United States," Penn said, arguing that the president deserves credit for the country's progress, and that liberal Americans ought to back him with the same passion they did in '08.
Penn also pointed to a new Pew poll showing the president leading Mitt Romney by 4 percentage points among swing state voters.
"Voters in battleground states aren't buying the rhetoric that somehow Romney is the guy to benefit the middle class," said Penn, sounding like a seasoned political analyst.
Penn, 35, left his gig on the TV show House in 2009 to work in the White House's Office of Public Engagement. He returned to the acting world last summer, appearing in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.