George Clooney comes clean on why he won’t campaign for Barack Obama

It’s already a well-known fact: George digs Barack. His support for Obama has been widely reported,obama-clooney.jpg everywhere from ABC to the Washington Post to TMZ. Even seems to take pride in Clooney’s reference to Obama being “like a rock star.”

So why, then, hasn’t Clooney campaigned for the Illinois senator? If Oprah and Bruce Springsteen are happy to hit the campaign trail, why not Dr. Doug Ross?

That was one of the topics Clooney addressed Wednesday night in Pelham, during his talk with Peter Travers at the Picture House. In a nutshell, he thinks it helps Obama more by not publically endorsing him, by not making stump speeches. What’s more, this isn’t he first time Clooney has boycotted a campaign because he felt his image would do more harm than good.

Shockingly, he took the exact same tack with his own father’s campaign for Congress back in 2004. Nick Clooney ultimately lost anyway, but George said that public appearances by him would have only made matter worse. Clooney explains the dilemma in his own words — and discusses whether he’d ever run for office himself — after the break.

My father ran for Congress and I couldn’t campaign for him, because it was “Hollywood versus the Heartland.” Yeah, I always love that — Hollywood’s the great immoral place. Right. We’re horrible, you’re right.

It actually would have hurt my father, so I couldn’t do it.

I feel that happens much of the time. You have to be careful how you do it. If someone asks you a question, if there’s somebody you like, you can say sure, I think this guy would make a good president. I think as an actor or a celebrity, you can do that. But you step into very dangerous water when you get up on the stage. Then you’re allowing … all the things people don’t like about you play against them [the candidates]. How’s that for a political answer?

Which, of course, begs another question: Would Clooney himself ever run for office? Indeed, Peter Travers asked just that:


Travers: So there’s a politician in you?

Clooney: [sarcastically] Oh, I can see it now. Can you see me out there doing that thing?

Travers: Well, maybe you’d do it differently.

Clooney: [sarcastically] Sure, that works. It’ll be fun.

Honest to God, it’s so much easier being on one single side of an issue. … This isn’t a political knock on anybody, but the deals they have to make … My father had to do it. I don’t mean deals like backroom deals. I mean like, you gotta come over here and talk to these people, you gotta do this. There’s so much of this that goes on on a constant basis. You can’t really say that cause it’ll offend this group. Well, I don’t have to worry about that. I can say Omar al-Bashir is a schmuck, and I don’t have to worry that somehow I’ve offended the Chinese along the way. It’s always the Chinese you’re offending right now.

MORE: Extended coverage of Clooney’s visit to Pelham.

(Clooney, top: AP Photo/Seth Wenig; Obama: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong; Clooney and Travers, bottom: Jay Ackerman/Pelham Picture House)

Ted Mann

Ted Mann aspires to join Stephen Baldwin’s Breakthrough Ministry, more commonly known as “skateboarding for the savior." Before becoming a Senior Editor at InTown, he worked at The Atlantic Monthly, the Philadelphia City Paper, and the University of Pennsylvania Press. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Press, and The Pennsylvania Gazette.