Once again, presidential campaigns are in a race to raise money in advance of a key quarterly deadline. And once again, they are trying to heighten expectations of their opponents and lower those of their own candidate.
This weekend, it will seem as if D.C. has moved West, as Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Biden appear at various fund-raisers and Los Angeles events. John Edwards and Bill Richardson also are scheduled to visit.
Also scheduled for swings through L.A. are two lawmakers raising money for their political action committees: Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).
Because of Senate voting, there was some doubt on Thursday as to whether Clinton would be able to keep her Friday schedule, which includes a fund-raiser at the home of director Roland Emmerich.
Clinton has been solidifying her support with what may be called Hollywood’s established entertainment-political class, with such figures as News Corp. president Peter Chernin and, more recently, director Steven Spielberg giving her their endorsement. On a swing through Los Angeles earlier this month, she raised more than $1 million at events at Chernin’s home and at the residence of director Brett Ratner.
But backers of Barack Obama, regarded as her chief rival, say the senator is still doing very well in the Hollywood community among younger donors, many of whom may not have been involved in politics before. Obama has the backing of such figures as Jeffrey Katzenberg, Spielberg’s partner in DreamWorks, and talkshow host Oprah Winfrey.
“My sense is there are still a lot of people giving to multiple candidates,” said political consultant Bill Carrick. “They just haven’t gotten to a place where they want to donate to one exclusively.”
Much more will be revealed after June 30, after which campaigns will be required to file reports that disclose the names of all their donors who have given $200 or more. As such, campaigns are under the gun to raise as much as they can to post the best numbers possible as a measure of their viability.
“It is getting to the point where it is not as easy to raise money,” said one fund-raiser. “The low-hanging fruit is gone.”
Because of this, campaigns have staged smaller events, or receptions aimed at specific parts of the Hollywood community. Although not officially billed as such, Clinton’s fund-raiser at Emmerich’s Hollywood home, co-hosted by Chad Griffin and Yashar Hedayat, has been aimed in part at the gay community. Tickets to a general reception cost $250 to $500. A VIP reception beforehand costs $2,300. Co-chairs include Greg Berlanti, Bruce Cohen, Steve Tyler, and Philip Mercado and Todd Quinn, among others.
Former President Bill Clinton also will do some surrogate campaigning, as he is scheduled to attend a Newport Beach fundraiser on Sunday.
Meanwhile, John Edwards is scheduled for a pair of industry events. Tony and Donna Scott are hosting a $500-per-person fund-raiser at their home on Sunday afternoon, with co-chairs including Hank Azaria, Army Bernstein, Heather Thomas and Skip Brittenham, Gary and Teddi Cole, James and Erin Denton, Gigi Levangie Grazer, Seth Green, Jeanne Tripplehorn, J.C. Spink and Van Fletcher and Skip Paul, among others. The next night, Edwards is scheduled to attend a $500-per-person event at Ratner’s home.
Biden is scheduled to attend a Los Angeles fund-raiser on Sunday, although that reception is not specifically aimed at the entertainment business.
Webb, a former Secretary of the Navy and screenwriter, was to attend an event on Saturday at the home of longtime supporters Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin.
Emanuel is scheduled to raise money for his Our Common Values PAC in an event co-hosted by his brother, Endeavor’s Ariel Emanuel, and his wife Sarah Addington. The Saturday afternoon cocktail reception will be at the home of Arianna Huffington, the other co-host.
And during all of this is the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting at the Century Plaza Hotel. Hillary Clinton, Richardson and Kucinich are scheduled to address the conference.