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

As Barack Obama’s "bitter" comments evolve into a full-blown make-or-break point for the campaign, what has been little talked about is the place where they were said: a political fund-raiser.

When it comes to raising money before high-dollar donors, candidates have kept the press at bay for much of this election cycle. They just don’t want reporters in the room, perhaps because of the appearance of candidates hobnobbing with rich supporters, i.e.  "elites."  The irony is that Obama’s campaign has been slightly more open to at least having some media presence at some of his fund-raising events than Clinton or McCain.

A pool reporter was sent to cover his first major Hollywood fund-raiser last year, the Spielberg-Geffen-Katzenberg event at the Beverly Hilton. And reporters have been allowed in other events on the QT — to the point where Obama himself has declared his comments "off-the-record" knowing that some media was present. He is sometimes a bit more candid in his remarks before donors, as when he told some Los Angeles donors in October that his campaign really did hinge on winning Iowa.

What doesn’t make sense is why campaigns shut the media out of fund-raising events that number in the hundreds. After all, some donor is bound to have a camera or tape recorder, or merely a good memory. While it is impractical to have a large media presence at an intimate event, a pool reporter or two is less imposing. Isn’t that better than retrieving comments second hand?

Moreover, had the Obama campaign allowed a pool reporter into the San Francisco event, perhaps the candidate would have chosen his words more carefully.

(As an aside, on the Huffington Post today, Bob Shrum notes that in 1984, Gary Hart’s campaign was irreparably damaged when he compared New Jersey to a toxic waste dump. Hart made the comment at a California fund-raiser. Shrum does think that the Obama remarks were much different.)

The Compassion Forum:
Obama’s remarks about small-town bitterness were front and center at Sunday night’s CNN "Compassion Forum" from Pennsylvania, but lost in those headlines was that the candidates took advantage of the opportunity to talk about religion. CBN’s David Brody writes that the GOP should be worried.

"What the Democrats are doing here is taking the faith issue and defining it in their own terms. For so long we heard Republican politicians trumpeting the life and marriage issues on the national stage. But now, it’s more of the social justice issues. (Poverty, climate change, etc)

"Look, the reality is at the presidential level, Republican candidates, for the most part have not engaged on the faith issue. Mike Huckabee has, so has Sam Brownback and yes, Alan Keyes. But c’mon. No top tier candidates like McCain, Giuliani or Romney showed up at the Value Voters debate last fall. Yet Obama and Clinton show up to this forum and tackle the tough questions. Heck, this is the second time in a year they’ve done something like this."

Shield Support: Speaking to the Associated Press convention this morning, John McCain announced his backing of a federal shield law.

Colbert’s Tour: Michelle Obama guests on "The Colbert Report" on Tuesday, as Stephen Colbert broadcasts all week from the Keystone State.

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