Donors Buzz, But Campaigns Cool

There was still plenty of talk throughout Hollywood today over the Clinton-Obama-Geffen dustup: who gains, who loses and whether it even matters.

What has happened is obvious: With an insanely early start comes intense media coverage and the corresponding need to have a narrative. What better than the battle for Hollywood money, a story that is loaded with stars and rich people and casts a presumptive winner of their support against a young upstart who steals her thunder. But even some on the Clinton side say they can’t deny that Obama’s Tuesday haul was significant.

Indeed, those who have met Obama come away describing him as some sort of an aura, although this is an industry that thrives on superlatives. Those who attended the Clinton gatherings today talked of her preparation and command of specific issues.

Clinton’s visit cannot compare — she was merely meeting with supporters in private receptions in preparation for the March 24 gala. But those who were at several of her receptions say that they were impressed by the turnout, given that each of those present has committed to rounding up between $25,000 and $50,000 for the big event.

According to those who were at some events, Clinton did not mention Geffen or his comments. That is no surprise, given that she’s been trying to take the high road.

Instead, she talked about an array of issues, including Iraq and immigration, as well as the new demands placed on all campaigns with large states like California poised to move their primaries up to February. Some predict the moves that will force candidates to visit the state more often, but also will exacerbate the need for cash.

She also pointed out that she’s targeting support among young women aged 18-30, hoping to energize that part of the electorate and an army of volunteer that may feel “inspired by her,” says one donor who was there.

Meanwhile, the New York Times follows up on the Geffen-Clinton feud and tries to trace its origins. They point out that it simmered even before the Clinton pardon of Marc Rich. According to the report, there was tension over the fact that Clinton, on his Los Angeles visits, started to stay overnight at Ron Burkle’s estate, the sprawling property once owned by Harold Lloyd. He had been a frequent guest at Geffen’s home. It’s reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s decision to stay at the Palm Springs home of Bing Crosby, and not his friend Frank Sinatra, which soured his relationship with the Chairman of the Board.

Donors who attended some of the receptions for Hillary Clinton today said they talked among themselves about the flap, but “it just seemed silly and blown out of proportion.”

Obama himself seems to have wished that the campaign stayed out of the fray. “I told my staff that I don’t want us to be a party to these kinds of distractions because I want to make sure that we’re spending time talking about issues,” Obama told NYT. “My preference going forward is that we have to be careful not to slip into playing the game as it customarily is played.”

But the NYT’s Adam Nagourney casts the campaign sniping as indicative of each side’s race to nail down donors, with anecdotes about Clinton adviser and former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe’s serious/jocular efforts to get donors to send money exclusively to Hillary, and not hedge their bets, which doesn’t sit too well in some circles. Norman Lear, giving to multiple candidates, replies, “What’s he going to do, jail me?”

Today, in a separate interview with Variety, Lear said, “The electorate earned the right to a vigorous debate, and that is what I have said to each of [the candidates].” 

“As far as I am concerned, this is not a race,” he said. “We’re all children looking for a parent to lead. This is a lot of orphans looking for a parent.”

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