early and often

Scandal President Tony Goldwyn on Stumping for Hillary, Abortion Access, and Why the Men’s Rights Movement Is ‘Ridiculous’

Tony Goldwyn.
Tony Goldwyn. Photo: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

What, exactly, is the job of a fake president at an actual presidential convention? It’s a question that’s come up a lot this week at the DNC, because you can’t go anywhere without running into Tony Goldwyn, a.k.a the guy who plays President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal.

“I thought I was here to accept the nomination. I’m confused,” Goldwyn joked when I asked him what he’s doing here. Also confused: many a die-hard Scandal viewer. Fitz is a Republican, which makes Goldwyn’s volunteer gig as a Hillary “surrogate” some rip in the space-time continuum too huge to contemplate. Tuesday night, there was Goldwyn, onstage at the Wells Fargo Center, introducing the “Mothers of the Movement,” a collection of black women who’ve lost their sons and daughters in police altercations. “Playing a president on television and then walking out in the convention hall was surreal,” Goldwyn said. Yesterday, he spoke at a “Men for Choice” NARAL (National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League) cocktail party, beginning his speech with, “Okay, I’m a feminist,” and talking about the future he envisions for his 20-something daughters. Today, he hinted, he’ll have some role to play at the convention before Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic nomination.

Mostly, he’s just been taking selfies with fans and stumping when he can. But the chance to be in the room for Hillary’s nomination on Tuesday was “thrilling,” he said. “I really believe that she is the right choice to be our next president, and also the historic nature of her candidacy is very important. I had a mother who in her life felt that she needed to defer to her husband and did not live up to what I believe was her potential. I have a wife who had to fight like hell to compete in a man’s world, and she did. And I have two daughters who now believe that’s their birthright. It’s been a very long road — 100 years since women got the right to vote — so the fact that now in 2016 we have our first female nominee of a major party and potentially our first president is a big deal.”

In his speech, Goldwyn emphasize that “reproductive rights are not just a women’s issue,” that the future of the American family was at stake and it was up to the men in the room to stand alongside women to “make sure that Donald Trump and Mike Pence get nowhere near the White House,” he said. “I’m telling you, a Trump-Pence administration will set us back decades.” And it was going to be “a rough fight,” he warned. “It’s scary out there.”

So what does this staunch male advocate for women’s rights think about the men’s rights movement? “Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous,” he said, laughing. “I’m not quite clear on what rights men don’t have. So explain that to me. I feel very entitled as a man. A white man in this country, that’s pretty good!” His day, he pointed out, had been full of choices he didn’t have to fight to make, just like it is every day. “Just try and tell me what to do with my own body.”

Read his full speech below:

 Okay, I’m a feminist and I am a man for choice. You know, I have two daughters who are in their 20s and when they’re struggling, when they’re in crisis, I give them my perspective. I always give them my advice, but I never tell them what they must do, particularly when it’s involving a moral decision. And I’d never dream of telling the what they should do with their own bodies. My girls are plenty strong enough and have a strong enough moral compass to make that decision for themselves.

My wife Jane and I have raised our kids to believe that they are equal, and they can take equality for granted, or they should. Even though they are well aware that we are far from there yet. But they do assume it is their birthright. So how could I possibly support anyone, and certainly not our government, telling them, “Oh yeah, well, that’s true, you’re equal,. But we need to tell you what you’re going to do about the choices you make in your reproductive decisions”?

Reproductive rights are not just a women’s issue. My girls are going to be earning their own living. They already are. And in partnership with the men in their lives they’re going to be dependent on a two party income, like more and more American families are. So this is an issue as much for men and for families and communities and for our entire country as it is for women realizing their own potential and their own success in the world. We all have to stand up and fight alongside American women to make sure that they have the freedom to control their own futures. Because when we give women have control over their futures by giving greater access to contraception, greater access to abortion, giving families paid leave, protecting pregnant women in the workplace, we’re actually building healthier families, we’re building healthier communities, we’re building a healthier economy.

Seventy percent of Americans do support access to safe and legal abortion, so that’s not just a majority, it’s a consensus. But the crazy thing is that this whole fight that we’ve been engaged in it’s not just about abortion. If it was, our opposition would join us in the fight to give people more access to contraception. They would join us in supporting working moms in terms of public policy, but they don’t. And you know what? They’re not gonna, because this is about a fundamentally different vision of the world.

So all I can say is, as part of that 70 percent of Americans that support choice, as a man for choice, all I can tell you is that I’m going to remain proud to stand alongside women across this country in fighting for their right to make their own choices and a big part of that fight is to make sure that Donald Trump and Mike Pence get nowhere near the White House. I’m telling you, a Trump-Pence administration will set us back decades.

We need a President with experience and the wisdom and the grit to stand up to bullies who tell women that they should be punished for making their own decisions. We need a president who for her entire adult life fought and delivered for women not just in the United States but around the world. A woman who 20 years ago sounded the clarion call that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights once and for all. We need Hillary Clinton and as men for choice we can get this done again by standing alongside women in this fight for reproductive rights and for fighting like dogs, which we are going to have to do, I’m sad to inform you, as if you didn’t already know. This is going to be a very rough fight. It’s scary out there, and we just have to fight and make sure that Hillary Clinton becomes the next president of the United States.

Tony Goldwyn Advocates for Women’s Rights at DNC