March 15th, 2012
06:21 PM ET
Movie star George Clooney took his message about the ongoing crisis in South Sudan to the Oval Office on Thursday, sharing his concerns during a private meeting with President Obama. As part of his effort, Clooney testified before Congress on Wednesday and was invited to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama at the State Dinner for Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House following his meeting with the president, Clooney and co-founder of the Enough Project John Prendergast praised the president for his “sustained commitment” on a “very high level,” and said the moment is right for a renewed focus on South Sudan.
“There is a great interest in working with China, not in any adversarial relationship, but actually working together for their own economic interests since China is losing a considerable amount of money in oil revenue right now,” Clooney said. “So there seem to be a unique moment and a unique time to be able to act on some of that.”
Asked about the popularity of a recent video about the humanitarian crisis in Uganda and the warlord Joseph Kony, both Prendergast and Clooney said that an increased awareness of problems in Africa can help their cause.
“The administration has now sent troops to Central Africa, and the good news is is that this video demonstrates just a lot of latent support in the United States – particularly amongst young people – to bring an end to that crisis,” Prendergast said. “Indirectly – and we said it to [the president] today – that we really support the, the effort to try to use those troops that the American government has sent to help bring an end to this terrible scourge. And the video just helps give political support to the strategy.”
Clooney acknowledged that keeping Sudan on the public’s radar is difficult, especially during what he called a particularly “complicated time in the world.”
“It doesn't mean that this has to fall completely off of the chart,” he said. “And so, our job is to find periods of time when it is most crucial to talk about it, when there's something that we may be able to do to bring attention at a crucial moment and try to keep that in the public eye. You can't have it be there all the time.”
The current focus on rising gasoline prices is one such moment, he said, pointing to North Sudan’s recent decision to bomb a Chinese oil well and the impact that has had on global supply.
“China who gets six percent of its oil imported from the Sudan, suddenly this affects their economy,” Clooney said. “It affects our economy in terms of oil because if China isn't getting six percent of oil from the Sudan, they're back on the market with us, which raises the price of gas for us. So for a moment, there is a moment that we can appeal to China.”
A consistent supporter of the president, Clooney contributed $35,800 – the maximum allowed under federal election law – to the president’s reelection in April of 2011. So it came as no surprised that when he was asked his feelings about the 2012 campaign, Clooney reiterated his hope that the president would be reelected.
“I'm a Democrat and I'm a supporter of the president, so I hope he has a very good – I hope he has a successful election,” he said.