In recent months, the 77-year-old Oscar winner has been in talks with the Donald Trump presidential campaign, The Daily Beast has learned. The primary purpose of those meetings was discussing how the right-leaning actor could best be used during the general-election fight against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Three months ago, Voight officially endorsed Trump (who has a history of going after Voight’s daughter, Angelina Jolie), describing the real-estate mogul as “funny, playful, and colorful, but most of all … honest.”
“When [Trump] decided to run for president, I know he did it with a true conviction to bring this country back to prosperity,” Voight said in his endorsement, issued to Breitbart News in early March. “He is the only one who can do it. No frills, no fuss, only candid truths … I pray all Americans who have seen and felt the meltdown of America with the Obama years, to please fight for Donald Trump. He will not let us down … The right vote will save our nation.”
Voight also told Breitbart News that he had previously shared his written endorsement with Trump, though he noted that Trump “doesn’t seem to need me.”
That appears to be changing.
In a phone conversation late last week, Voight confirmed to The Daily Beast that he and Team Trump have been communicating in recent weeks about potentially deploying Voight’s star power on the campaign trail, and possibly the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.
“I’ll be as helpful as I can be,” Voight said. “I intend to be, and we’ll see come convention time if [the Trump campaign] wants me at the convention. If they do, I’ll make plans to go, and we’ll go from there … I would like to support him in any way that I can … I’m in touch with the campaign, and I fully support Donald. I think he’s the man for the job … I have discussed with them the possibility of being at the convention, and what I might be available to do for them in California.”
When asked about the ways discussed that the actor might best aid the Trump campaign—celebrity surrogacy on the trail, fundraising, phone-banking, cutting ads, or speaking onstage at the GOP convention (as Eastwood did four years ago)—Voight replied, “Everything is on the table.”
“It’s gonna be very interesting … from the time of the convention til the time of the election, and I will certainly want to make myself available to [Trump] as we get closer to the election.”
Voight says that Trump’s controversial response to the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando has only reinforced his support for Trump’s White House run.
“I think what he’s been saying in all his major press conferences and speeches [post-Orlando] have been appropriate, and make very good sense,” he said.
Voight has never been shy about weighing in on national or international affairs, or about hitting the trail for presidential contenders. As a young man, the then liberal movie star campaigned for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election and spoke out against American intervention in Vietnam. Of late, however, Voight has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most vocal conservatives and a staunch advocate for Republican politicians.
In recent years, Voight has appeared alongside Sarah Palin, trashed President Obama as a “false prophet,” and revved up the crowds at 2008 campaign stops for Rudy Giuliani. And here’s Voight on CNN talking about why he was “out there… working for Mitt Romney” in February 2012:
Voight is perhaps Trump’s highest profile celebrity endorser in the vastly Democratic stronghold of liberal Hollywood. He is also one of the most famous members of the secretive right-wing Hollywood fellowship Friends of Abe, which recently shuttered its nonprofit.
Last month, the Midnight Cowboy and Coming Home star attended a lavish fundraiser thrown at a Los Angeles-area mansion owned by Tom Barrack, a real-estate investor and fellow Trump endorser. The posh dinner-and-cocktails event included a “small Hollywood presence,” and marked the first one of its kind in the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising blitz.
Voight told The Daily Beast that it was a “very nice event,” and that it was a pleasure to “see Donald with a group of his peers.”
“I don’t know [Trump] very well, but I’ve always admired the way he handles himself,” he said. “I think his family is a very admirable family. [For example,] I was at a charity event, one that I emceed for the children of Chernobyl, and Ivanka [Trump] was helping that charity out that year.”
Voight’s ardent support for Trump comes at a time when many others in Hollywood’s conservative and Republican circles are growing increasingly frustrated over Team Trump’s alleged indifference to their communities.
“We feel that [Trump] snubs conservative Hollywood,” a filmmaker active in Hollywood GOP circles told The Daily Beast last month. “Is it much of a surprise? He’s surrounded himself with Hollywood liberals for decades, [and] partied with them.”
Trump’s former rival Ted Cruz, in comparison, worked for years to build relationships with Hollywood Republicans, and earlier this year an alliance of some of Tinseltown’s top pro-Cruz Republicans tried unsuccessfully to cobble together a game plan to thwart Trump’s momentum.
For many Hollywood conservatives, The Donald has a lot of ground to make up.
At least he has Jon Voight squarely in his corner.
“I am very enthusiastic for the Trump candidacy. Period,” Voight said. “I just think it’s a time when we desperately need very strong leadership.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.