POLITICS Sheen won't run for U.S. president
The actor says he is different from the character he plays on 'West Wing.'
By DAVE MASON
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- "West Wing" fans won't see their man in the White House. Martin Sheen says he won't run for president in real life.
Sheen, who plays President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, said he doesn't want to run according to -- or against -- the expectations that voters have because of his "West Wing" character.
"I would be pegged as a progressive, liberal Democrat," Sheen said, but noted his beliefs can't be wrapped up in a single label.
For example, "I'm opposed to abortion as a father and a grandfather," he said.
Sheen prefers to speak out for issues on his own terms, without the limitations posed by politics. He has continued to protest against war and for the rights of Third World people, which he defines as the poor inside and outside the United States. He has demonstrated for peace, even if doing so meant being arrested.
Dressed this day in a dark brown suit and tie, the talkative and energetic Sheen paused just long enough to get some gourmet coffee. After he took one sip, the almost restless Sheen walked several feet, then stopped to talk about his next activity.
"I'm going to Louisville, Kentucky, on March 12 for a protest at Taco Bell offices on behalf of migrant workers in Florida. They want to get a raise for growing tomatoes. It'll only cost Taco Bell one cent more per pound," Sheen said.
On "The West Wing," Sheen plays a president who finds ways to do his job despite multiple sclerosis. A University of California consultant has advised Sheen on how to play the struggle with the disease.
"What she told me was to be subtle. I can have many ups and downs," he said.
Subtle and optimistic. "[MS] patients see the light at the end of the tunnel," Sheen said.
Sheen isn't an official spokesman for MS because, unlike his character, he doesn't have the disease.
"It strikes mostly young women," Sheen said.
Sheen, who calls himself a devout Catholic, also talked at length about his religion and the importance of humility.