Actor Justin Long grew up in a middle-class Connecticut home, the son of two teachers who instilled in him a belief and a faith in education. But when he went off to college, student loan debt became overwhelming, and he had to drop out of school after two years. "I ended up lucky," he says, "because I became an actor. But that's a one in a billion shot that I took. We need strong education—we need someone who's concerned about the middle class."
"I'm proud of what President Obama has done on education," Long says. "I'm proud of him for doubling Pell Grants. I'm proud of student loan reform. I believe in that man. I don't believe in a man who, in order to make a $5 trillion tax cut, is going to gut education. So I'm voting for the future. I'm voting for education. I'm voting on behalf of 100 percent of Americans."
Ngozi is a freshman at Hampton University in Virginia. While most of her classmates will cast their first ballots in this year's election, Ngozi can't: She's just 17 years old. But her age isn't stopping her from making sure President Obama gets a second term—she's been dorm-storming all semester, registering students to vote ahead of Monday's registration deadline. "It's so important to me that I want to help anyway," she says. "I canvassed in 2008, and this year, even though I can't vote, I want to help by doing all that I can—and that means registering people to vote." Today, she and fellow student Ambur are registering voters outside the football stadium as the Hampton Pirates take on Norfolk State.
Before Hill Harper was an award-winning actor on CSI: New York, he was Barack Obama's classmate and basketball buddy at Harvard Law. Harper joined the Gotta Vote bus tour in Madison, Wisconsin, today, to fire up University of Wisconsin students and tell them about the man he knew 20 years ago.
Tracee Ellis Ross has been in movies and on TV for years—but hitting the campaign trail reminds her of how she felt when she first started auditioning for acting roles: nervous. Even though campaigning gives her jitters, Ross believes that it's so important to do whatever she can to help President Obama get re-elected. So today, she flew out to Ohio to energize college students and African American voters as "one of millions of volunteers."
There's too much at stake to sit on the sidelines, she says. "I care about my community. I care about human rights, civil rights, women's rights. And when it comes to women's rights, there's no question: President Obama was raised by a powerful women, married a powerful woman, and is raising two powerful women. He gets women's issues." She cites President Obama's support for equal pay, the first bill he signed into law as president. "Mitt Romney refused to support equal pay, and Paul Ryan actually voted against it."
She says one thing in this election is certain: President Obama's the only candidate with a plan to keep us moving forward. We've come too far on the road to recovery to turn back—and that hits closer to home than you might think.
"My best friend is a mother of three with three jobs," says Ross. "She and her husband are still struggling to make ends meet. One of her jobs does not pay a ton, but it has health care for her family. There are families like hers across the country and here in Ohio with similar stories. So I have to ask you—we have to ask ourselves: Who truly cares about creating opportunities for you? Barack Obama."
At stops at Ohio State and Wright State, campaign offices, and outside a Dayton beauty shop, Ross's message was the same: You gotta vote.
"Voting is one of the ways I know I'm alive—one of the ways I know that I matter. I remind myself that I am enough to make a difference. No matter where I come from or who I am, my voice makes a difference. I hear from people, 'Oh, Mitt Romney has no chance.' Well, if you think that, he might. We have got to do our part because it's going to be close. Do you want to wake up November 7 wondering, 'What if I had done a little more?' Let's make sure we wake up joyous , not regretful."
Olivia Munn can name a lot of personal reasons why she supports President Obama—the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," support for military families—but what motivates her the most is what's at stake for women in this election if Mitt Romney becomes president. "He thinks women aren't capable of making choices over their own bodies," she says. "That is very scary to me. Ask yourself: How does that affect you? How does that affect your girlfriend? Your mother? Because if you believe in an America where women can make their own choices about their own bodies, then you gotta vote."
So today, she hopped on the Gotta Vote bus in Ohio to fire up college students who've seen her on The Newsroom or The Daily Show—and make sure they vote. At each stop, she asked students point-blank if they were registered to vote. If the answer was yes, she passed out high-fives. If the answer was no, she asked why not—and urged them to get it done. "Every single vote matters, especially here in Ohio," Munn says. "You have this power as young people. We get to decide how our world is going to be. We don't have to wait for everyone else who's been telling us what to do with our lives. We have to get out there and vote."
And to make sure her high-fives were not in vain, Munn led the students on a march across campus to cast their ballots—for many, their very first presidential ballots—for Barack Obama.
Are you registered to vote? Don't let Olivia Munn down.
Last week, a video revealed what Mitt Romney really thinks of half the country: "dependent upon government" and "victims." Not surprisingly, those people—the middle class, seniors, veterans, students, and low-income Americans—were outraged that someone running to be president for all Americans could write them off so casually. So Romney's trying to make amends through a new ad.