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The Democrats showcased some of the brightest stars among their celebrity supporters in Charlotte Thursday, as the Democratic National Convention built towards President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.
The final day’s proceedings including performances by James Taylor, Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony, who sang the National Anthem. America Ferrera and Ashley Judd — a Tennessee delegate — gave interviews in the aisles at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Among those given key speaking roles were actresses Scarlett Johansson, Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria. An earlier schedule this week, obtained by CNN, showed that Natalie Portman was also set to talk. However campaign officials said Thursday that Portman, who campaigned for Obama in Nevada, would not be at the DNC after all.
Washington told the crowd: “I’m here not just as an actress but as a woman, an African-American, a granddaughter of immigrants who came through Ellis Island, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans and as one of millions of volunteers working to re-elect President Obama…
“Today there are people trying take away rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought for: our right to vote, our right to choose, affordable quality education, equal pay, access to health care,” she said. “We the people can’t let that happen.”
Washington was followed onstage by Johansson, who campaigned for Obama in 2008.
“I speak to you not as a representative of young Hollywood, but as a representative of the many millions of young Americans, particularly young women, who depend on public and nonprofit programs to help them survive,” Johansson said. “I grew up in New York City. I grew up with four siblings. My father barely made enough to get by..
“Whether we can get health care, afford college, be guaranteed equal pay—all at risk,” Johansson continued. “And that’s why I’m here today—to use whatever attention I’m fortunate enough to receive to shed the spotlight on what’s at stake for all of us.”
Taylor, who was expected to sit with the first lady during Obama’s speech, performed several songs, including “Carolina In My Mind.” (He was actually born in North Carolina.)
Anthony brought the crowd to tears with his rendition of the National Anthem, while the Foo Fighters did an acoustic version of “My Hero.”
“It’s an honor to be here,” lead singer Dave Grohl told the packed arena. “I think this song makes perfect sense here tonight.”
Longoria, meanwhile, used her time on stage to take Mitt Romney to task over taxes.
“Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America,” she said. “It’s the suburban dad who realizes his neighborhood needs a dry cleaner. It’s the Latina nurse whose block needs a health clinic—and she knows she’s the one to open it. It’s the high school sophomore who is building Facebook’s competitor.
“They are the entrepreneurs driving the American economy, not Mitt Romney’s outsourcing pioneers. He would raise taxes on middle-class families to cut his own—and mine. That’s not who we are as a nation, and here’s why: The Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy’s flipping burgers—she needed a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not.”
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