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Entries in Cindy McCain (1)

Monday
Mar072011

Actor Ben Affleck, Republican Cindy McCain Team Up to Help Congo

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- When Ben Affleck first called up Cindy McCain to ask for her help in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she thought it was a joke.

"She thought it was a prank call," Affleck said.

But last month, the political odd couple of a Hollywood actor and wife of a former Republican presidential nominee traveled to Africa together, and now they're teaming up to bring attention to the intense suffering of the Congolese people and how Americans can make a difference.

On Tuesday, McCain and Affleck will testify together about the issue on Capitol Hill, but ahead of their testimony, the pair sat down together Monday with ABC's Jake Tapper to discuss their recent trip to Congo and the simple steps that could change lives there.

"Politics doesn't have anything to do with this. This is about human lives," McCain said.

Affleck, who first traveled to Congo five years ago, said there's a moral responsibility to pay attention to the suffering there and to get involved.

"People are dying, really dying and have been for a long time," Affleck said. "Fifteen years, three-plus million people have died. I don't know that I can make any more argument about why you should pay attention to this."

Affleck and McCain said there's a need for a special advisor to the region who can coordinate the efforts of governments and western aid organizations.

McCain herself got involved in Congo in 1994, and at first, she said, she was skeptical about Affleck, fearing that he was like other celebrities that she'd seen who drop in to Africa for what she called a "parachute photo op."

"My past experiences with other folks in the same, perhaps, arena have not been good. It hadn't been heartfelt. It hadn't been, what I believe, truly committed to the issue and the people," McCain said.

But Affleck, she said, has done the hard work of learning the issues on the ground in detail.

"This has been not only a wonderful opportunity but a wonderful treat," she said. "Ben has a working knowledge of this region. He not only understands the issues, but he understands what we need to be doing."

And Affleck added that while the Democratic actor and the Republican political wife may be separated by a partisan divide, the two have found plenty of common ground on Congo, family and even politics.

"I'd say we have, actually, frankly, quite a bit in common. I don't know if, maybe she doesn't want me to say that out loud," Affleck joked.

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