In the new LA Weekly, Patrick Range McDonald profiles Jeremy Bernard and Rufus Gifford, the fund-raising consultants and gay couple who have been raising much of the money in Los Angeles for the Barack Obama campaign.
Among other things, they were instrumental in raising some $850,000 at a recent Obama fund-raiser in Pacific Palisades that drew Mike Medavoy, Bill Paxton and Richard Zanuck — who rarely donates to Democrats.
McDonald writes, “With Hillary Clinton’s powerful political machine pounding away at the Obama campaign, with each primary costing more and more money to fend off the attacks through television and radio ads, and with the need to send out Obama’s own message leading up to Super Duper Tuesday, Bernard and Gifford are pivotal players in his continuing survival and hoped-for nomination as the Democratic candidate for president.”
But they also have had influence on the candidate and gay causes. Obama, for instance, was the first of the candidates to agree to attend last August’s Logo debate on gay issues. They are ex-officio advisers to the Obama campaign on gay issues — and McDonald follows them along to Las Vegas, where they attended a rather cringe-worthy reception organized by the Human Rights Campaign.
Writes McDonald, “Two days before the Nevada Democratic caucus on January 19, Bernard is stuck inside the Caramel Lounge at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, attending a gay social mixer disguised as a political event. Jean Smart, the blond actress from the 1980s TV show Designing Women, begs the three dozen or so gays in the room to vote for U.S. Senator John Edwards.
“He’s made it be known that he’s not comfortable with gay marriage,” she tells the boys, “but he’s such a great leader, and he’s very passionate.”
“Bernard stands there, staring at Smart and grinding his teeth. The Human Rights Campaign, one of the most high-profile gay-rights groups in the country and host of the mixer, has invited celebrities to pitch their favorite candidates. No star shows up to back Hillary Clinton, but an actress from Grey’s Anatomy is there for Obama. Bernard sees it as amateur hour — an insulting and embarrassing reminder of the old guard, or Old Gay, approach to politics.
“Straight celebrities to woo the gay vote in 2008? It’s as if time had suddenly reverted back to 1992, when Bernard worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.”