Danson: Voters ‘crazy’ to back third-party candidates

Richard Burr
The Detroit News

Roseville — Michigan voters would be “crazy” to support third-party candidates in the Nov. 8 presidential election, actor and Hillary Clinton supporter Ted Danson said Friday.

“My point of view on it is: That’s crazy because this is an amazingly important race,” said Danson, known for playing bartender Sam Malone on the 1980s situation-comedy “Cheers,” a brief run on “CSI” and currently for NBC’s “The Good Place.”

Danson’s comments came after a Glengariff Group statewide poll conducted Monday and Tuesday showed about 15 percent of 600 likely Michigan voters said they backed third-party candidates — 10.3 percent for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 4.6 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Clinton led Republican rival Donald Trump by nearly 12 percentage points, but her support hasn’t topped 42 percent in Michigan during three general election campaign polls done for The Detroit News and WDIV. When asked what he would say to third-party voters if Clinton’s race with Trump tightens, Danson said their votes won’t feel correct in hindsight.

“If you care about things like climate change, you have one person who thinks it is a hoax and one person who has been working on it most of her adult life,” he said. “You have one person that has been working for women and families, you know, her entire adult life and you have somebody else who denigrated it.

“A protest vote, although it’s your vote to do with as you want, at this point feels beside the point. Who do you want to tell your children and grandchildren you voted for at this particular time later?”

The 68-year-old actor and Oceana board member was in Roseville with actress and wife Mary Steenburgen to thank Clinton volunteers and staff members for their campaign work and give them a pep talk. They addressed an audience of 35 people including Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin of Royal Oak.

Steenburgen agreed with Danson’s sentiment on third-party candidates, even after he asked if she “wanted to temper what I said.”

The race revives memories of 2000, when Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s campaign was blamed for siphoning votes from Democratic nominee Al Gore, who lost Florida and the election by 537 votes to Republican George W. Bush, said Steenburgen, an Arkansas native who has been friends with Clinton for 38 years.

“So many people were excited about him because he was with the Green Party. But I kept saying: Read this man’s (Gore’s) book,” the 63-year-old actress said. “... ... Hillary Clinton has shown up time after time for Oceana, for the environmental work (Danson) has done. ... Take another look and see who’s walked the walk.”

Trump’s Michigan campaign struck back by citing Clinton’s manuevering with the Democratic National Committee against primary rival Bernie Sanders.

“This is a desperate attempt to appeal to Bernie supporters even though Hillary rigged the election against them and privately believes they are ‘hopeless basement dwellers,’ ” Trump’s state Director Scott Hagerstrom said in a Friday statement, referring to hacked Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks.

“Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have zero credibility in Michigan after recent WikiLeaks releases verified she sold American workers out to Wall Street, and supports TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement) behind closed doors while telling the public she’s against it. Michiganders are fed up with two-faced politicians like Hillary Clinton, and their Washington corruption and back room deals and will vote for change in November.”

"What's crazy is voting for a president who will get us into a certain war. It's imperative that voters flip the vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party because she is the only candidate who will put Peace, People and Planet before profit," said LuAnne Kozma, Michigan coordinator Jill Sten for President.

Danson and Steenburgen, who won the 1980 best actress Oscar for her role in “Melvin and Howard,” have both worked with comedian and television producer Larry David and said they were impressed with his impersonation of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders as a recurring role on “Saturday Night Live” during the Democratic presidential primaries.

“The first time I saw, it I thought: Oh, dear Lord, he’s going to elect Bernie, he’s so good,” Danson said.

Although they support Clinton, both Hollywood actors praised parts of the democratic socialist’s campaign.

“I loved that he reminded us all about the income disparity and the differences for the haves and have-nots in this world,” Steenburgen said. “I loved that he talked about climate change, of course, which is a huge thing in our house. ... Much of what he talked about were things I heard (Clinton) talk about 25 years ago, 20 years ago. But this was a voice that was exciting and new for people to hear.”