ST. PETERSBURG — You would think the president had walked into the St. Petersburg office of the Barack Obama re-election campaign Wednesday night.
As Obama campaign volunteers crammed the small office on Central Avenue, they moved across the room to crowd around another familiar face.
She wasn't the president, but as Angela Bassett leaned against a stairway railing and addressed the volunteers, she might as well have been a politician.
"This election is not one where we can sit on the sidelines," she said. "The president has made a lot of gains in the last three years. … And we have to keep our president in office because in the blink of an eye, it can go back to the way it was before."
The Hollywood actor and St. Petersburg native, 53, returned to her hometown as a surrogate campaigner for Obama. She spoke of her upbringing in the Jordan Park neighborhood and school days at Boca Ciega High School.
Her task Wednesday was to tout the president's accomplishments and fire up volunteers. Her visit came on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
"We can't do it without you and we're going to do it because of you," she said to cheers.
The star of Hollywood films like What's Love Got to Do With It?, Malcolm X and Notorious said her success shows what's possible in America when you're given a fair shot.
"That's what our president wants for everyone," she said.
The legions swarmed the star as she made her way among the phone bankers who busily dialed numbers. She smiled and posed for photos with anyone who could get close enough.
"My niece was a friend of hers growing up," said volunteer Ada Davis, 71. "When she was growing up she always said 'I'm going to Hollywood,' and everyone said 'No, you're not.'
"If you have a destiny and a dream, America is a place where your dream can be fulfilled regardless of color or socioeconomic background," Davis said.