McCain’s Challenge


That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Imagine how popular John McCain would be in Hollywood had he not run for President this year. It wasn’t too long ago that he was earning high praise out here, as long as he stayed a political maverick. Veteran Hollywood pol Warren Beatty lunched with him, and he did amass quite a list of entertainment backers.

Of course, that all changed as McCain started tracking rightward, and continued supporting President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. Even some of his Republican Hollywood backers have been dismayed that his candidacy hasn’t gained more traction. With the news of his firing and departure of top-level campaign personnel, the question will be how solid his support in the industry still stands. After all, he did top all of the other GOP contenders in raising money in Hollywood last quarter, even while he fell short of expectations nationwide. My guess is that Rudy Giuliani will top him in entertainment fund-raising in the second quarter. And Fred Thompson has yet to even announce a bid.

One theory of McCain’s troubles: “gay” sweaters.

Gay Debate: In case you missed it, Chris Dodd will participate in the Aug. 9 Logo debate. Meanwhile, Bill Richardson’s remark on Don Imus’ program, in which he used a Spanish word identified as an anti-gay slur, gets a bit of coverage this morning.

Press Room Unveiled: The reviews are in: The new White House press room looks like the set of a game show.  The New York Times’ Sheryl Stolberg uses the occasion of the opening to note that the national press is starting to tune out President Bush, with his air time on network newscasts diminished and some media outlets removing correspondents from his travel schedule.

Goring Gore: Gore Vidal went solar in his Hollywood Hills home, until the DWP shut him down.

Cheadle Chides Condi: At a New York screening of “Talk to Me,” Don Cheadle said he was perplexed by Condi Rice’s explanation of why the Bush adminstration can’t do more for Darfur.

From Radar Online: “She wanted to tell me what the U.S. was doing,” Cheadle said. “First she said, ‘We’re doing all we can, but it’s not us, it’s the United Nations. They’re bogged down with red tape, and trying to push anything through just takes forever. The bureaucracy is almost insurmountable, and it’s the United Nations, not the U.S.’ And then she said, ‘It’s like when we had this crisis in Lebanon, I had to send someone down specifically to push through all of our legislation and make sure that everything moved through efficiently.’ I’m thinking, I thought you had no control over the United Nations. But I didn’t say that, ’cause I wanted to leave!” The audience erupted in laughter. “And then she basically said, ‘And I’ve heard a lot of you activists talking about George Bush needs to do more to stop the crisis in Darfur, and George Bush can’t stop this crisis in Darfur. You guys need to back off of that.'”

Quotable: “No. I would like to live.” Michael Moore, when asked whether he would ever run for president, in a HuffingtonPost chat on Tuesday.

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