Harold and Kumar go to the White House and campaign for Obama

Julie Conlon

Student Life Editor


Morgan Markley

Equinox Staff


Whether students attended with an educational agenda or they just wanted to see characters from their favorite stoner movie, Kal Penn and John Cho drew a crowd Monday in the Mountain View Room of the L.P. Young Student Center at Keene State College.

Cho and Penn, famous for their Harold and Kumar characters in movies like “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle,” and “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” are making new headlines today for their campaign support of Barak Obama. Penn, who in 2009 announced he would join the Obama administration as Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, has spent the last three years doubling as an actor in various television shows such as “House” and “How I Met Your Mother.”  The duo visited KSC Monday reaching the conclusion of their New Hampshire college tour.

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According to Kay Montplaisir, the campus leader for Keene State for Obama, KSC remains the only New Hampshire school where both Penn and Cho attended together.

Montplaiser explained, “They were here talking about young Americans, especially college students, and what Obama has done for college students.” With approximately 150 KSC students and Keene community members packed into the Mountain View Room, Cho and Penn discussed issue related topics such as Obama’s doubling of the Pell grant, student loan reform, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Cho told students present to vote in NH as the state is referred to as a “swing state,” meaning NH is established as a battleground where no one candidate has an overwhelming lead. Cho encouraged KSC students in particular to first, register, and second, vote.

Garrett Ean, a Keene resident, attended the promotional event with a handful of “tough policy questions,” video camera in hand. New Hampshire Press Secretary Harrell Kirstein prevented Penn from answering Ean’s policy question after Ean proceeded to question  Penn regarding a comment he made in a speech during the Democratic Nation Question.

Ean shared, “It seemed like they got shut down by the campaign. I was given a card for someone I could contact at the campaign office,” he continued, “I think it’s unfortunate that the campaign thought Harold and Kumar couldn’t answer the question. I hope it gives them something to think about like who they’re working for and anyone else who volunteers for presidential campaign.”

Other students, like senior Greg Devaux, found the duo’s speech informative and helpful. Devaux, a registered republican from the state of New York, said though he still plans to vote republican, Cho and Penn provided insight on student education and loans.

“When it came to the Pell grants, just understanding more where education is going—those were the main things for me,” Devaux commented, “Overall it was informative. I didn’t think Kal Penn was smart, but he’s actually extremely smart!” Stephanie Caravedo, a senior, said she attended the event for her interest in the election.

Regarding Cho and Penn, Caravedo said, “I’ve heard of Harold and Kumar and enjoyed their movies. I think they’re comical people who could get your attention with personal stories, so I came today to kind of hear their opinion and learn more about Obama and what I want to do in the upcoming election.”

Similarly, Mathew Perami, a sophomore, found the two to be helpful and said he appreciated the discussion on the economic policies for college students. Perami commented, “It’s an issue that’s really pertinent to me as a student. It’s a very real issue. I think it was helpful. They were good speakers.”

Montplaiser commented on what she said to be the most positive outcome of the day, that is, the number of students who registered to vote at the station set up by the town clerk in the first floor of the student center. Montplaiser added, “It was a really good tool because.”

The team leader said she believes students don’t know how valid their own voices are in the election.

“I think a lot of people aren’t as informed as they should be.” Montplaiser said she’s spoken to many students who tell her they plan not to vote because they don’t feel they know enough. Montplaiser said it s crucial that people understand the “political systems and the issues at hand.”  For the students who claim to not know enough, Montplaiser said, “I really think that that’s just a ridiculous excuse. She continued, “No matter what happens, this is going to affect us especially. Just the fact that they think it doesn’t affect them—it’s almost scary.”

Montplaiser concluded, “I don’t care who they’re voting for—as long as they’re registering and voting and getting their voices heard, that’s all that matters.”


Julie Conlon can be contacted at jconlon@keene-equinox.com


Morgan Markley can be contacted at mmarkley@keene-equinox.com

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