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Sort of Breaking News: Tom Hanks endorses Barack Obama

May 3, 2008 | 10:20 pm

In an obvious attempt to be ignored for a while, Tom Hanks with no fanfare, news release or hoopla, late tonight put up a video on his MySpace page endorsing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Had it come on, say, a Monday morning, the endorsement by the popular and widely-respected Hanks would have caused seismic shifts on those rock shelves that underlie Hollywood and promise to slide the place into the ocean someday.

Actor-producer-director Tom Hanks endorses Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama

Thanks to The Times' dauntless Tina Daunt, The Ticket, however, is right on top of this major international political story. "BEWARE," says the headline on Hanks' video, "Celebrity Endorsement."

"I'm Tom Hanks," Tom Hanks says directly into the camera in what looks like someone's den, "And I want Barack Obama to be the next president of our country. As an official celebrity, I know my endorsement has just made your mind up for you."

He continues in a straightfaced, tongue-in-cheek manner to seriously endorse the freshman senator. Hanks acknowledges all the candidates -- and some of their relatives, associates and supporters -- have made gaffes in recent weeks.

But he says he reads history sometimes and cites the groundbreaking peaceful turnover of power in 1797 from George Washington to John Adams as a major turning point in history. And says the same sort of corner can be turned by the election of the country's first African American president, a member of a race once officially considered only three-fifths of a person here.

He especially praises Obama's character and vision, integrity and ability to unify the country. Hanks' endorsement is a breath of good news for Obama after a few difficult weeks involving the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who Obama says is wrong.

It'll be something positive for Tim Russert to ask Obama about on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, but Hanks' approval may not carry much weight with the working class Democratic voters where the senator's support has not been strong.

Things have been relatively quiet on the Hollywood endorsement scene of late, since it's a given that most prominent celebrities there will be endorsing Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Just kidding. McCain's got Sylvester Stallone and that's it.

Hillary Clinton lined up Jack Nicholson too. And Obama has also been endorsed by Jane Fonda but that hasn't shown up on many billboards yet.

"I'm Tom Hanks," the actor/director/producer says at the end of his video, "I wrote and approved this message, and I am now going to turn off the camera." He gets up, walks around out of sight and the camera goes off.

-- Andrew Malcolm

                                                               Photo: Courtesy of Tom Hanks

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