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Hollywood Donors Weigh a Hillary Clinton vs. Joseph Biden Race

Hillary Clinton’s next fundraising swing through Los Angeles on Sunday may be her final visit before the 2016 race takes on a whole new dynamic.

That, of course, would be if Vice President Joseph Biden enters the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination and, although he has said that he has yet to decide, some Hollywood and Los Angeles supporters are urging him to do so.

Jay Sures, a managing director at UTA, told The Hollywood Reporter this week that he would back Biden if he decides to run.

In an interview with Variety, Sures said that if Biden gets in, he will take a very active role in coordinating outreach in the entertainment industry, something he says has been conveyed to Biden and his staff.

“Hillary and Bill Clinton have spent decades courting Hollywood,” Sures said. Because Biden was running for Senate in Delaware, “he never had to come to Hollywood and beg for money. His relationships here are not at the level of the former secretary of state and former president. My goal is to develop those relationships for him.”

He cited Biden’s recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in which he talked publicly about the death of his son, Beau. “I think when he went to the Stephen Colbert show, it showed people a side of him they didn’t know. He’s an incredibly authentic, incredibly human in a way everyone can relate to….He has just garnered the heart and soul of Americans.”

He also pointed to Biden’s unexpected announcement, in May 2012, that he supports same-sex marriage, something that forced the White House to scramble to announce President Obama’s support.

He also said that Biden was “by far the most qualified person to be running for president of the United States of either party.”

Told that’s also what some of Clinton’s supporters say about her, Sures said in response, “Name her three big accomplishments. Name me her two big accomplishments. Name one massive accomplishment.”

Sures added, “At the very least, if he runs and loses, he will make Secretary Clinton a better candidate. That is the worst case scenario.”

Cookie Parker, a software executive who served on President Obama’s national finance committee, was among the nearly 50 Democratic fundraisers who signed a letter last week urging Biden to run.

Parker supported Clinton at the time she announced her campaign last spring, but Parker said that was before a Biden race seemed like a possibility .

Her decision to back Biden “is not moving away from Hillary as much as it is supporting Joe Biden.”

She said that if Biden doesn’t get in she will be “110% behind Hillary,” but says that her decision was motivated by wanting “to make sure we have the best chance possible to retain the White House.”

She, too, says she was impressed by the Colbert interview, and said that Biden would be the natural choice to continue the administration’s agenda and “what is left to be done.”

She cited the 2012 vice presidential debate when Biden told challenger Paul Ryan that what he was saying was “malarkey.”

“This election is going to be about retail politics, and we need someone who can look Republicans in the eye and say, ‘malarkey,'” she said.

Clinton’s experience, however, may be a warning for Biden as well — her popularity was much higher as a presidential prospect than as an actual candidate, as she experienced the full weight of GOP attacks and, with the email issue, additional media scrutiny. Biden’s propensity for gaffes may endear him to some as proof of his authenticity, but they also could prove to be a distraction.

Clinton also has been able to amass considerable fundraising strength, particularly in Hollywood.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, as of June 30, she has drawn $1,023,156 from TV, movie and music sources, far ahead of her challengers for the nomination. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew $48,866 and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley collected $25,850.

That support is even stronger when you consider outside money. Jeffrey Katzenberg and his political consultant, Andy Spahn, are helping to raise money for a SuperPAC backing Clinton, Priorities USA Action. Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Haim Saban and Cheryl Saban each gave $1 million to the organization in the first half of the year, while director J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath each gave $500,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Those showbiz contributions made up almost one-third of the SuperPAC’s $15.7 million haul during the period.

Although his fundraising numbers are paltry, Sanders’ campaign last week released a list of celebrity backers of his candidacy, including Will Ferrell, Danny Devito, Mark Ruffalo, Sarah Silverman and Jeremy Piven.

Those who have been urging Biden to run predict he will draw a significant number of Clinton supporters to switch, and that even if it doesn’t match her showbiz backing, or even come close to it, they believe he wouldn’t necessarily need the huge sums at the initial stages of the campaign.

Clinton, who will be making her fourth fundraising visit to Los Angeles to raise money for her 2016 campaign on Sunday, is scheduled to attend an afternoon event at the home of Rob Friedman, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, and an evening event at Elevate Lounge in downtown Los Angeles.

Donors do express concerns over the Clinton email issue or some of her poll numbers in the early states in which she trails Sanders, or what the impact would be of Biden entering the race. Whether that affects the Clinton campaign’s ability to raise money is another question.

One Clinton fund raiser, who did not wish to be identified, said that he’s actually exceeded his goals for the Elevate event. Another bundler said that it has been “much harder, much more difficult” to sell tickets. While he said there has been “a little bit of wariness over the distraction of the email issue,” the difficulty has been they are no longer seeking donors who are the “low-hanging fruit,” or her most fervent backers.

“Now we’re deeper down the list, and it is much more of a challenge,” the fund raiser said.

Spahn predicted that Clinton’s next round of fundraising through Los Angeles “would be just as successful” as previous events.

He said that it is still early in a campaign in which the media’s focus has been on the email issue, dynamics that will change once Republicans have picked a candidate and the contrasts will be more apparent.

“There’s always ups and downs” in a campaign, he said.

He added, “It hasn’t manifested itself materially … You may hear [from donors], ‘Why can’t she do a better job on the email issue?,’ but they are still writing the check.”

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