Actress Kerry Washington stumps for Obama in Tampa

While speaking to the gathering, she cited the fact that there were over 30 states (including Florida) that either introduced legislation and/or passed laws making it harder to vote in 2011. "This is not okay," she declared, adding, "Why is it that one side is trying to silence a lot of people, and the other side is saying, 'We want everyone who is eligible to vote?' Even if you're not voting for us, we want everyone who is eligible to vote to be able to vote."

In explaining her enthusiasm for the president, Washington told the approximately 60 or so people stuffed into the small Obama for America Ybor City office off of 14th Street that she was originally undecided between Obama and Hillary Clinton during the '08 Democratic primary. That is, until she heard Obama give a speech in Los Angeles, where she was hooked.

CL asked her if it was tougher this year to be a supporter, considering how so many people who were inspired in '08 by his campaign have expressed reservations about supporting him again in 2012, as the economy flirts again with recession.

"I think when you really look at the record, it's very clear how excited we should all be," she declared immediately. "He's been able to accomplish so much in the last three years, whether it's with the auto industry, the credit card companies, with Pell Grants, health care, Lily Ledbetter, whatever issue that is important to you, this is the candidate who has really helped us all to be protected," she said, as authoritatively as any surrogate who makes the daily rounds on CNN or MSNBC.

The actress spent about 15 minutes speaking with OFA volunteers, taking questions along the way (including a couple about the show she stars in weekly on ABC called Scandal).

Washington also spoke about the significance of advocating for voting on the weekend celebrating Juneteenth. That unofficial holiday, which officially takes place on June 19, celebrates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S.

"I know that as a person of color, people died in the Civil Rights movement so I could exercise my right to vote." She also praised the movements that gave women the right to vote, and students in the 1960s who protested to get the voting age reduced from 21 to 18.

Washington's appearance comes just a few days before the president himself is scheduled to return to Tampa for a fundraiser this coming Friday.

  • Kerry Washington fires up the Obama troops in Ybor City

The campaign to re-elect President Obama dubbed this weekend the "Gotta Vote Weekend," an effort by Obama For America (OFA) volunteers to register new voters some four and a half months before the general election.

Hillsborough County is a crucial area for Team Obama if they are going to win Florida again this fall, and so film and television actress Kerry Washington traveled (with her father) to Ybor City on Sunday to thank a large group of OFA volunteers to confidently walk the streets and get new voters registered.

A hardcore Democrat who campaigned for John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008, the 35-year-old actress told CL that she had the day free and asked the campaign where should she and her father Earl celebrate Father's Day together and get the pro-Obama message out? We'll send you out to Tampa, she was told.

"Everybody understands how important Florida is now, particularly because of a lot of changes proposed .. they're just so much stuff going on out here that we really want to make sure that we are protecting the votes of eligible voters," she said, alluding to the recent standoff between Governor Rick Scott and the federal government on purging non-citizens from the state's voting rolls.

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