When Martin Sheen last spoke to Huffington Post in September, U.S. President Barack Obama’s re-election looked like a cakewalk. Three debates later, the race couldn’t be tighter — but the legendary actor and activist says the situation is not as apocalyptic as it may seem for Democrats.

“He’s still doing well, but it’s gotten a little more precarious. What the polls are showing is absolutely true — Gallup is neck and neck. That’s indisputable. But what is not always clear is that he is far ahead in the Electoral College, the battleground states. He is leading now. God forbid, but it could happen that he could lose the popular vote and still win a second term,” Sheen said Wednesday backstage at Free The Children’s We Day youth rally in Calgary where he was a guest speaker.

An Obama re-election without winning the popular vote would no doubt spark an outcry from the right, much as the reverse was true when George W. Bush was elected in 2000 despite Al Gore capturing more votes nationwide.

But Sheen said, essentially, that’s just tough. “Those are the rules, and when you enter the game you agree to play by those rules. Sorry, this is what it feels like.”


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  • We Day Calgary

    Martin Sheen motivates the crowd.

  • We Day Calgary

    We Day Calgary performers and speakers talk to the media at We Day Calgary.

  • We Day Calgary

    Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger talks with the media at We Day Calgary.

  • We Day Calgary

    We Day presenter Spencer West talks to media at We Day Calgary.

  • We Day Calgary

    We Day Calgary performer Lights chats with media.

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  • We Day Calgary

    18,000 students. Madness! Fun madness!

  • We Day Calgary

    Rob Nash warms up the crowd.

  • We Day Calgary

    The crowd sways and dances to Robb Mann.

  • We Day Calgary

    All smiles!

  • We Day Calgary

    Candid shots of the crowd

  • We Day Calgary

    Learning the We Day Dance

  • We Day Calgary

    Hedley performs to an excited crowd.

  • We Day Calgary

    Hedley lights up the stage at We Day Calgary

  • We Day Calgary

    More musical performances at We Day

  • We Day Calgary

    Homemade signs in the crowd.

  • We Day Calgary

    Mariana's Trench mugs backstage.

  • We Day Calgary

    Martin Sheen answers questions backstage at We Day.

  • We Day Calgary

    Shawn Desman poses for the cameras backstage.

  • We Day Calgary

    Larry King answers questions backstage.

  • We Day Calgary

    We Day dancers get their hands up.

  • We Day Calgary

    Martin Sheen and Craig Kielburger interview on stage

  • We Day Calgary

    The crowd awash in red.

  • We Day Calgary

    Mariana's Trench performs.

  • We Day Calgary

    Larry King makes a funny face.

  • We Day Calgary

    The crowd gets in the spirit.

  • We Day Calgary

    The crowd loving We Day!

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    Crowd participation.

As for how the race got so close, Sheen basically gave Obama a pass on the first debate (“his energy was at a very low ebb”) while being encouraged by the last two, especially Obama’s “get the transcript” reply to criticism of his response to the Benghazi attacks.

“Mr. Romney really showed his ass there, and how stupid he is and arrogant. There’s an old phrase, arrogance is ignorance matured, and that’s what we saw.”

As for the third debate, Sheen thought Obama “gave Romney too much time and didn’t shut him up when he could have easily done so” but came off “far and away the most qualified.”

Despite his confidence that Obama will win, Sheen was quick to offer warnings over how a Romney presidency might affect America, citing the Republican candidate’s primary selling point as his primary reason for concern.

“He is, in essence, a very arrogant, very successful businessman [who] believes in unreined free enterprise,” Sheen said. “He doesn’t have a clue what 99 per cent of the people are going through. He’s never lived on that level. He’s never had to compete for a job or face eviction or struggle to get a college loan. He’s a guy that the old phrase applies to: ‘he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple,’” Sheen said.

“He would be a reflection of the one per cent. They say this kind of rhetoric that I’m doing right now is advocating class warfare, but that’s nonsense. There is no class warfare; the war ended a long time ago and the poor lost very badly. While the upper one per cent of our population has continued to rise, the 99 per cent has continued to drop. The unions are at risk, and it’s no secret it’s not getting any better for the 99. If Romney is elected, that’s going to be the level that we start at.”

So why does Sheen think Romney has the support of so much of the electorate? He blames the billions being poured into the election, through both campaigns and SuperPACs, specifically calling out conservatives as “very unscrupulous about how they twist and turn things to their own advantage.”

But Sheen added that this is an issue that goes much further back than this particular election or even the Citizen’s United ruling that allowed unfettered spending by groups outside the candidates’ campaigns.

“Every major corporation is represented in Washington with a huge battery of lawyers and lobbyists, but there’s nobody lobbying for the poor,” Sheen said, adding, “We’ve always had the best politicians money can buy. So if Romney is elected, he’s the best politician we could afford.”

Related on HuffPost:

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  • 2012 -- Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

  • 2008 -- John McCain

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gestures to his supporters, while his wife, Cindy looks on during his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 2004 -- John Kerry

    Former Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) stands on stage with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry after delivering his concession speech at Faneuil Hall on November 3, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

  • 2000 -- Al Gore

    Democratic presidental candidate Al Gore leaves the voting booth after casting his vote at Forks River Elementry School in Elmwood, Tennessee on November 7, 2000. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1996 -- Bob Dole

    Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole lowers his head while making his concession speech to supporters at a Washington hotel, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1996. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • 1992 -- George H.W. Bush

    U.S. President George Bush concedes the election on Nov. 3, 1992 after losing to President-elect Bill Clinton. (BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1992 -- Ross Perot

    U.S. independent presidential candidate Ross Perot delivers his concession speech on November 3, 1992 after Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidential election. (Photo credit should read PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1988 -- Michael Dukakis

    Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis wipes his upper lip during the first presidential debate with his opponent U.S. Vice President George Bush in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sept. 25, 1988. (AP Photo/Bob Jordan)

  • 1984 -- Walter Mondale

    Defeated presidential hopeful Walter Mondale addresses supporters at night, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic center, conceding to President Reagan. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • 1980 -- Jimmy Carter

    U.S. President Jimmy Carter concedes defeat in the presidential election as he addresses a group of Carter-Mondale supporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1980. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

  • 1976 -- Gerald Ford

    President Gerald Ford speaks in the White House Press Room in Washington on November 3, 1976, conceding defeat to Jimmy Carter. (AP photo/ stf)

  • 1972 -- George McGovern

    Sen. George McGovern and his family in Sioux Falls, election night, Nov. 7, 1972 after he was defeated by Richard Nixon, and conceding the election. (AP Photo)

  • 1968 -- Hubert H. Humphrey

    Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey spaks at the Alfred E. Smith memorial dinner in Waldorf Astoria on Oct. 16, 1968 in New York. (AP Photo/John Lent)

  • 1964 -- Barry Goldwater

    A contact sheet of Republican senator Barry Morris Goldwater of Arizona concedes the 1964 presidential election to President Lyndon Johnson at a press conference held at his campaign headquarters at the Camelback Inn, Phoenix, Arizona, on November 4, 1964. (Photo by Washington Bureau/Getty Images)

  • 1960 -- Richard Nixon

    Vice President Nixon points to home-made sign at airport as he arrives in home state to cast his ballot on Nov. 8, 1960 in Ontario, California. (AP Photo)

  • 1956 -- Adlai Stevenson

    Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts talks with Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson on August 12, 1956 in Chicago. (AP Photo)

  • 1952 -- Adlai Stevenson

    Movie Actress Piper Laurie (left) is wearing a donkey head beauty spot on her cheek as she chats with Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, Democratic presidential nominee in Portland on Sept. 8, 1952. (AP Photo)

  • 1948 -- Thomas Dewey

    Dewey ran as the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the elections of 1944 and 1948. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • 1944, 1948 -- Thomas Dewey

    Thomas Dewey (1902 - 1971) Governor of the State of New York broadcasting over the 'Crusade of Freedom' radio. Dewey was the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the elections of 1944 and 1948. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

  • 1940 -- Wendell Wilkie

    Wendell Willkie, rehearses a report to the nation at a New York City radio station on Oct. 26, 1942. Willkie was President Roosevelt's personal representative, and his Republican opponent in the 1940 presidential elections. (AP Photo/Murray Becker)

  • 1936 -- Alf Landon

    Gov. Alf M. Landon, G.O.P. presidential nominee, voting in Independence, Kansas on Nov. 3, 1936. (AP Photo)

  • 1932 -- Herbert Hoover

    Herbert Hoover is shown leaving Madison Square Garden, Oct. 31, 1932 in New York City, after delivering his major campaign address before a crowd estimated at 22,000. (AP Photo)

  • 1928 -- Alfred E. Smith

    Governor Alfred E. Smith speaks in New York on Nov. 2, 1928. (AP Photo)

  • 1924 -- John W. Davis

    John W. Davis, Democratic nominee for President of the U.S., and his wife, are pictured on the estate of Charles Dana Gibson at Seven Hundred Acre Island in Dark Harbor, Maine on July 21, 1924. (AP Photo)

  • 1920 -- James M. Cox

    Democratic candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States, Governor James M Cox and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) are seen at the head of a nomination parade in Dayton, Ohio on Nov. 1, 1920. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  • 1916 -- Charles Evans Hughes

  • 1912 -- Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt during the progressive campaign of 1912. (AP Photo)