If Barack Obama wins in New Hampshire on Tuesday, there will be plenty of consternation in Hollywood’s donor circles.
“Suddenly, we’re all these people’s best friends. It’s amazing,” says one Obama fund-raiser, who added that the campaign has seen an “enormous increase in contributions and interest” since the Iowa win.
Although Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have raised about equal amounts in the entertainment industry, Clinton captured the bulk of Hollywood’s political donor establishment, including Steve Bing, Ron Burkle, Peter Chernin and Rob Reiner.
Tina Daunt of the Los Angeles Times writes, “On desks all over Hollywood, there’s a note this morning waiting to be sent:
“Memo to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: We think you’re aces. Really. And we love your husband. But we’re running off with Sen. Barack Obama. Hope you understand. It’s all about being part of history. We’ll do lunch after the inauguration.”
It’s a bit of hyperbole, but the bandwagon effect already has started. More than 2,771 have signed up to be precinct captains in California in a two-day recruitment drive over the weekend, including “wives of celebrities and daughters of studio heads,” said one campaign official. He has a fund-raiser scheduled for Jan. 16.
Hollywood initially looked to be heading to Obama, but the momentum swung back to Hillary, particularly after a well-received fund-raiser at the home of Peter Chernin that was followed by the endorsement of Steven Spielberg. It was a big “get” for the Clinton camp, as Spielberg had co-hosted Obama’s fund-raiser, although made it clear that he had yet to endorse anyone.
By September, things looked bleak for Obama, and donors were growing restless, even as Oprah Winfrey prepared to hold a fund-raiser at her Montecito home in September. Some in Hollywood were said to be sticking with Obama out of loyalty to his future ambitions. And Clinton racking up endorsements, looked like the inevitable nominee that everyone would fall behind once the voting started.
John Emerson, a key Clinton fund-raiser in Los Angeles, said that “These nomination battles are long, and you go up and you go down.”
He doubted that there would be a shift in endorsements — lest you look like a fair-weather friend. And he said that “in a strange way” it might boost Clinton’s fund-raising, as those who have not maxed out would now sense the urgency to contribute.
The trouble right now is that so many industry figures have reached their giving limits. even to multiple candidates.
Emerson concedes, “A lot of people have either maxed out to either one or both candidates. But to the extent that people are sitting on the fence, it is clearly going to help his fund-raisers.”