If it hadn't been for Eleanor Roosevelt, Cynthia Nixon might not have been charming Obama supporters in Ybor City today.
The Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning actress best known for playing Miranda in Sex and the City told volunteers packed into the small Ybor field office that before this trip she'd already given money to Obama and talked him up to her friends. But "the thing that got me off my butt," she said, was "an amazing speech" given by Michelle Obama at a fundraiser in NYC a few weeks ago.
The centerpiece of the event was a performance by "presidential actors" — performers who had played either a President or a First Lady and who also were supporters of Obama. Directed by Mike Nichols with readings adapted by playwright John Guare, it was quite the stellar group: Sigourney Weaver, Sam Waterston, Chris Rock, Geena Davis, Cherry Jones, James Earl Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Blair Underwood — and Nixon, who played FDR's Eleanor in Warm Springs (with Kenneth Branagh) on HBO.
After the performance, said Nixon, Michelle Obama "just started talking numbers to us. She referenced North Carolina where he won by 140,00 votes last time, and she broke that down for us — she said that's about five votes per precinct. And when you think about that, that kind of thing that you can hold in the palm of your hand — that you reach five people, that can be a precinct won in some cases. We know how important Florida and Ohio are, we know that without them Romney can't win, and we know that it's going to come down most likely to a few thousand votes."
So Nixon signed on to help the Obama campaign get out the vote. Because of the uncertainties surrounding Hurricane Sandy, she didn't know until last night where they were sending her. Since the possibilities included Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia, she packed many more clothes than she needed, including a big winter coat and snow-ready boots (which she was wearing in Ybor, along with a fetching knit dress).
Speaking from her multiple perspectives as a woman, a mother, a cancer survivor and a lesbian, she told the group why Obama's re-election matters so much to her.
"You know, everybody used to say about Bill Clinton that he was the first African-American president, but I think that Barack Obama is the first gay president. My wife and I got married this May — and I know it took him a little while to get there, but the fact that he came out fully for marriage equality for all Americans — we've never had a president come anywhere close to that. And I know that if we can keep him in there for another four years, we're gonna see the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act."
She also talked about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and extolled the benefits of Obamacare, particularly when it came to insuring people with "pre-existing conditions" like cancer. And, with a glowing smile, she told the group why it was nice to be in a state where the results of Tuesday's election are not a foregone conclusion.
"I'm so grateful to be here in Florida," she said, "because in New York there's nothing to do Obama-wise. There's some other stuff to do — we were in the eye of the storm this week. But here you're the eye of the political storm."
Her itinerary today, in addition to Tampa, took her to Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Safety Harbor and Orlando. Tomorrow she hits Virginia, where those boots may come in handy.
"We can't let anybody fall through the cracks," she told the crowd as she wound up the speech. "We wanna wake up on October 7th - uh, November 7th," she said, correcting herself with a nice save: "We wanna wake up on November 7th and say it's like October 7th — he's still in office!"