She spoke up on women’s health issues, spoke at the Democratic National Convention and now, Sandra Fluke is on the campaign trail for President Barack Obama.
Fluke and actor Tate Donovan made a stop Tuesday in Davenport to promote Obama’s support of women’s issues and the importance of early voting. The duo, aboard the Obama For America’s gottavote.com bus, countered the presence of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in eastern Iowa.
Early voting in Iowa began Sept. 27. In Illinois, early voting begins Oct. 22.
Fluke was thrust into national prominence earlier this year after radio host Rush Limbaugh disparaged her for her advocacy of women’s health and reproductive rights. After speaking at the Davenport event, she chatted and posed for photos with supporters, both male and female.
Donovan, a movie and TV actor whose career has spanned more than two decades, including the television series “Damages” and “The O.C.,” stood off to the side after the event, watching Fluke interact with supporters.
“She is a star, especially to me,” Donovan said. “She took just such an awful situation, and it is amazing what she has done.”
Cassie Bridges, an Obama campaign intern at the Davenport office, also spoke proudly of Fluke.
“It is an awesome thing to be this close to someone who can make a difference like her,” she said. “She is a role model to young and old women alike. It is amazing.”
Fluke doesn’t put the spotlight on herself, but rather what her situation represents in what she calls an important election.
“I think people respect someone for stepping forward and getting involved and making their voice heard,” she said, “not just on women’s rights, but for the middle class.”
During the brief event, Fluke was pleased by the turnout.
“I love seeing the ‘I already voted’ stickers,” she said.
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She spoke of Republican threats to de-fund Planned Parenthood and how GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, voted against it, while noting it was the first bill Obama signed into law as president.
Fluke also spoke of her experience as the focus of criticism by Limbaugh and other conservatives, and how Romney failed to stand up with them.
“A private citizen should be able to stand up and not be attacked like that,” she said.
While Fluke told her story, Donovan spoke of how he came to support Obama, discovering the then-U.S. senator’s book “Dreams of My Father.”
“I kept reading and kept reading and thought, ‘what if he was our president?’ ” Donovan said. “I’ve got to get this guy elected.”
During the 2008 campaign, he visited Iowa during the caucus, working at phone banks and talked about how the Obama campaign gained momentum, especially during a campaign stop in South Carolina when one women shouted, “Fired up! Ready to go!”
“One person can change a room,” Donovan said. “One city can change a state, and one state can change a country.”