Obama Wins North Carolina

Networks have called the race in North Carolina for Barack Obama.

Obama won African American and younger voters by wide margins.

In Indiana, the race was still too early to call.

Going into Tuesday, Hollywood donors were anxious, as the two states’ primaries represent the last two major contests, with the final matchups taking place on June 3 in South Dakota and Montana.

Obama donors in particular were nervous and frustrated, as the campaign struggled to deal with the fallout made by the emergence of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright,, last week. But Clinton donors also were looking for an impressive showing that could steer momentum in their candidate’s direction.

Otherwise, a split decision would produce, in the words of one fund-raiser, “the Bataan death march continued.”

“It’s another do or die night,” the fund-raiser said. “If nothing else, she’s a fighter who knows how to survive.”

The margin of victory was the most important, as Clinton sought a victory that would put her closer to Obama in the delegate count — although it is all but impossible for her to overtake the Illinois senator.

Clinton’s campaign also argued that they had the momentum in the waning weeks of the primary, in a way to appeal to undecided superdelegates.

To say that each campaign’s die-hard supporters in Hollywood are getting a bit weary may be an understatement.

The industry’s donor community is all but tapped out, with many restricted from giving any more to candidates under federal election laws. Obama leads entertainment industry fund-raising — albeit by a small margin— collecting $3.2 million through the end of March to Hillary Clinton’s $3.1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. John McCain has collected $588,725 from industry sources.

Nevertheless, Clinton is scheduled to raise money at a May 15 event in Century City, with tickets starting at $150 per person.

Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is expected to host about 40 top donors and fund-raisers on May 14 at the Regency Club, hoping to turn attention to the ultimate goal: defeating McCain. The DNC has come under some criticism for not launching a campaign against the Republican nominee fast enough, hobbled not just by the attention paid to the protracted contest but by modest fund-raising.

Clinton backers played up her ability to capture white, working class voters as essential to competing in the general election in November.

As such, with the faltering economy at the forefront of issues, both candidates downplayed their use of celebrity surrogates, or used them judiciously.

Stevie Wonder performed at an Obama rally in Indianapolis on Monday, while Rob Reiner, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Sean Astin campaigned for Clinton. John Mellencamp, with the signature song “Small Town,” performed for Clinton on Saturday, but he is officially neutral in the race, having done the same for Obama at a rally in Indiana on the night of the Pennsylvania primary.

The campaigns’ pursuit of substance over style didn’t prevent some die-hard supporters of the candidates from politicking on their own. Elizabeth Taylor issued a press release on Friday, urging voters in those states to vote Hillary.

“It would be magnificent for our country if Senator Clinton won the votes, hearts and minds of the people in Indiana and North Carolina on Tuesday,” she said.

Tom Hanks posted a video message on his MySpace page, trumpeting Obama candidacy while at the same time striking a note of irony in that his testimonial was titled “Beware: Celebrity Endorsement.”
Obama “has the integrity and the inspiration to unify us, as did FDR and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy and even Ronald Reagan when they ran for the job,” Hanks said.

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