Actor Zach Braff visits UMass

By Mary Reines

Maria Uminski/Collegian

Zach Braff, the star of the television series “Scrubs,” came to the University of Massachusetts on Saturday to campaign for President Barack Obama and Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Hundreds of students lined up outside of the Fine Arts Center ahead of Braff’s arrival, waiting for doors to open. Then, they stood in the center’s foyer for about an hour before Braff came out to speak.

“Now listen, there’s a lot of malarkey going on in this state,” he told students. “I got so tired of throwing things at my TV that I decided to get off my butt and make sure students get out and vote.”

The actor said he started “getting political” in 2008 when Obama was running for office.

“Like many younger people, I was taken with Obama,” Braff said in an interview. “I like his message. I trust him and I believe in him. And I believe in what he’s fighting for.”

The 37-year-old began visiting college campuses and rallies to ensure that students wouldn’t get “apathetic” or “busy with all the many things they have on their plates,” he said.

Braff tried to drum up support for Warren, telling the  students that “this Senate race could decide whether the whole Senate could go Republican or not.”  “The truth is that it’s a very close senatorial race,” he added in an interview. “I think that college kids have to know how important it is to get out and support a candidate that supports the issues that most of them – I would imagine – are in line with.”

Braff said he thinks that Warren is the strongest fighter for the middle class.

“I love her message. I love everything she stands for,” he said in an interview. “I believe that she’s supportive of policing Wall Street and protecting the middle class.”

The actor said he cares about social issues, such as health care, gay rights and women’s rights.

Braff also praised the attending students for their interest in the campaign, and encouraged them to get others to vote.

“You guys care about politics. You’re here,” he said. “Please go be proactive. Make sure everyone you know is registered on Wednesday. Even if you talk to one person after this brief moment, I bet that you will have made a difference.”

In an interview, Braff added that some students from out-of-state don’t know that they can legally register to vote in Massachusetts.

“If you’re going to college here and you live here, you can register,” he said.

Braff urged students to be diligent on Election Day and to remember to vote.

“Don’t be apathetic,” he said. “Don’t get wasted on Nov. 5 and be hung over and not show up. Don’t do the walk of shame and forget that you have to go vote. Get out there and make a difference in your community.”

One student in attendance, 20-year-old Julia Maiman, said she was inspired by Braff’s speech. After the event, she said she registered to vote.

“If I hadn’t gone to that, I don’t think I would have, just out of laziness. He legitimately did make a difference,” she said.

Braff’s speech was preceded by speeches from Democratic state Sen. Ben Downing – who represents a district in far western portion of the state – and  Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke.

Braff also visited other universities in the area, such as Northeastern University, Clark University and Emerson College, on Saturday.

Mary Reines can be reached at [email protected].