Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
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Politics

‘West Wing’ cast stumps for Clinton

Fictional White House staffers visit candidate’s third Toledo office

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    Cast members from ‘The West Wing,’ from left, Joshua Malina, Bradley Whitford, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney and Dulé Hill arrive to campaign for Hillary Clinton at the Clinton campaign office on North Reynolds Road.

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    Actress Allison Janney signs an autograph for William Dailey of Toledo.

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    Toledoans Liz Schulze, left, and Vicki Rose take a picture with actors Mary McCormack and Joshua Malina as cast members from The West Wing campaign for Hillary Clinton at the Clinton campaign office on North Reynolds Road in Toledo Saturday.

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    Benny Esparza of Toledo sits in a large crowd as cast members from 'The West Wing' campaign for Hillary Clinton.

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West Wing actress Allison Janney stood with her former castmates on the back of a pickup truck in front of Hillary Clinton’s South Toledo campaign office and looked out at the fans of the long-running television show.

“Never have I wished more that I was C.J. Cregg in this moment,” Ms. Janney joked, of the whip-smart, cool-headed press secretary she played on The West Wing. “I’m not comfortable speaking in front of people, so I just want you all to know I’m so happy to be here in support of Hillary.”

Ms. Janney, a Dayton native, joined fellow West Wing alumni Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Joshua Malina, and Mary McCormack on Saturday to rally campaign volunteers across the state.

PHOTO GALLERY: ’The West Wing’ visits Toledo

RELATED CONTENT: Janney promises ’The Jackal’ in return to Toledo if Clinton wins 

The red-carpet actors want Mrs. Clinton in the White House, which means turning battleground Ohio blue. From a makeshift stage in the back of a pickup truck, they addressed the Toledo crowd of several hundred. The audience’s size prompted organizers to make a last-minute move from inside Mrs. Clinton’s third Lucas County campaign office to the parking lot along North Reynolds Road.

Cast members made other stops Saturday in Boardman, Cleveland, and Sandusky on behalf of Mrs. Clinton. Today, they will visit Dayton and Columbus.

The show, which first aired in 1999, still boasts a die-hard fandom. Since the series concluded in 2006, viewers have longed to return to president Jed Bartlet’s fictional White House. His administration solved world crises and pressed congressmen for crucial votes all while delivering the lightning-speed dialogue for which the show is famous.

In that halcyon political world, the president and his team made tough calls but earned admiration from both sides of the aisle. Banter is sharp, ideals are unshakable, and even government peons and policy wonks are noble public servants.

But the cast was quick to draw a distinction between televised drama and the real-life future of a country faced with an election-day decision between Mrs. Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“Now, I don’t claim to be some kind of political wizard. I only play one on TV — sometimes — but really like 16 years ago,” said Mr. Hill, who portrayed the president’s personal aide, Charlie Young. 

“I love this country, and when we find ourselves at a crossroads where the character of our nation is at stake, that’s when the only thing left for us to do is for all of us to get to work.”

Mr. Whitford told the crowd that the consequences of this election “are real.”

“This ain’t no stinkin’ TV show,” said the actor who played Josh Lyman, the character who for most of the series served as deputy chief of staff to the Democratic president and struggled to make bipartisan legislation.

“The fakest thing about The West Wing is that we had rational Republicans,” Mr. Whitford said. “We’re living in some bad writing right now.”

That line resonated with Nancy Ravin of Sylvania Township. She came to see the actors — who played characters she loved for being likable but flawed — and also to support Mrs. Clinton.

“Like the characters in The West Wing, her heart’s always been in the right place too,” she said.

Brittany Koza, a Clinton campaign volunteer from Toledo, loved The West Wing, which she watched on Netflix after it went off-air. She is a particularly big fan of Mr. Hill and wore a T-shirt depicting the TV show Psych on which he starred.

She waited to snap a photo with the actor after the event, which gave her a break from making phone calls and knocking on doors for the Clinton campaign.

“I think this is definitely the most important election of my lifetime,” she said. “I want a candidate and a president who is inclusive and will work for everyone.”

Mrs. Clinton has yet to campaign in Toledo, an omission that has sparked derision from Mr. Trump’s campaign. In a written statement issued Friday, Ohio campaign spokesman Seth Unger referred to Mrs. Clinton’s absence from Toledo as an “ongoing and unprecedented snub.”

Mr. Trump has been to Toledo twice in two months.

The Clinton campaign sent Bill Clinton to the University of Toledo in March, before the primary election. Daughter Chelsea Clinton spoke at UT on Thursday.

Bill Clinton will return to the area Tuesday to encourage voter registration ahead of the Oct. 11 deadline.

America Ferrera, the actress most famous for her role as the title character in the TV show Ugly Betty, is scheduled to be in Bowling Green and Toledo today on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.

Ms. Ferrera will visit the student union at Bowling Green State University at 10:15 a.m., and then come to Toledo at noon for a “Latinos in Politics” event at the Believe Center, 1 Aurora L Gonzalez Dr.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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