HOULTON, Maine — Actress Susan Sarandon brought a touch of Hollywood to Shiretown Wednesday morning as she continued stumping across the state for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
About 60 individuals came out for the question-and-answer event hosted by the Houlton Band of Maliseets at the tribe’s community center.
“I’m the oldest of nine, so I feel like I come from a tribe myself,” Sarandon joked in her opening remarks.
The actress said she is no stranger to Maine, having vacationed many times with family in the Mount Desert Island area where she now owns a home. Her father, Phillip Leslie Tomalin, was a year-round resident of Maine later in his life and passed away here in 1999.
“I’m here because I am so excited to have a candidate that I can back 100 percent,” Sarandon told the crowd. “It hasn’t really happened in my lifetime. I have had people that I was more excited about than others, but there has never been a candidate like Bernie.”
She said what impressed her most about Sanders was how far he has gotten in his political career without the use of a Super Pac, a type of independent political action committee that can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and individuals.
“It’s crazy how we have gotten away from helping each other and having a shot at living a good life in this country,” she said. “I think most Americans have gotten to a place where they are ready to say, ‘We deserve this shot.’”
Sarandon asked how many people in the audience had ever attended a caucus. And after only a smattering of hands were raised, she strongly encouraged all of those present to attend the caucus of whichever political party they belong to, in order to help see the best candidates move forward.
Sarandon, an Academy Award and British Academy Film Award winner who also is known for her social and political activism for a variety of liberal causes, did not linger to visit with the public after her session as she had to be in Waterville for a similar session at Colby College later Wednesday afternoon.
She drummed up support for Sanders in southern and eastern Maine the previous day, including at Bowdoin College in Brunswick and the University of Maine in Orono.
On Wednesday while in Houlton, she also met with tribal chiefs Brenda Commander of the Maliseets and Edward Peter-Paul of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs during the event at the community center.
Commander said she appreciated having the opportunity to not only host the event but to ask some questions about tribal relations with the federal government.
“We really have to start thinking about the election and who we want to support for president,” Commander said. “I was so pleased to see so many young people here today. They are inspiring.”
Duncan Bradshaw, a youth from Houlton who attended the session, was impressed by Sarandon’s political knowledge.
“I’m really glad that not everyone is fooled by big industries,” Bradshaw said. “I’m also glad to hear Susan Sarandon, and so many others, are giving their voices to help Bernie Sanders out.”
Bradshaw, who admitted he was a fan of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which helped launch Sarandon’s career, was one of a handful of youths to pose questions to Sarandon, and he could barely contain his excitement when he stood up to speak to her.
“She’s a great woman,” he said. “Any humanitarian is great, because I am one myself, but she came here to Houlton, and I think that’s great.”