Next Thursday night, Clinton is holding a fundraiser at Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, mere steps away from the studio backlot of 20th Century Fox. Half of the tickets – costing from $150 per person to $2,300 for two passes to a VIP reception – have already been sold, and the event is still accepting donations.
“There won’t be any massive exodus until she bows out,” said Michael Speier, executive news editor at Variety, the Hollywood trade paper. Even her “small shot” is not being seen as a green light to jump over to Obama’s side or perhaps even to the GOP camp with John McCain, he explained.
“She still has a loyal group of supporters,” said Elena Ong of the California Democratic Women’s Caucus, who is also on the host committee for Thursday’s event. The fundraiser is tied to Mother’s Day, with organizers asking donors to “honor your mom by inviting her to meet 44th president Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Ong insisted that despite any game-changing events this week in North Carolina and Indiana, it’s still “too early in the game to figure out these things.”
Indeed, many of Clinton’s Hollywood supporters are true believers, harboring a secret hope that Obama still might somehow falter. Many even say they are planning future appearances in conjunction with the Clinton campaign. “Fran is still a big Hillary supporter” said a spokesperson for Fran Drescher, a frequent Clinton surrogate and former star of “The Nanny.” “Next week, she’ll be back on the circuit.”
Political consultant Kristina Schake, who counts several moguls among her clients, doubts that Clinton’s Hollywood supporters will leave early. “Hillary’s greatest attributes are her loyalty and tenacity, and her supporters in Hollywood have shown her the same respect during all the ups and downs of this hard-fought contest,” she said.
While Schake said phone calls have been made recently to try and lure people to the Obama camp, she added, “that’s the nature of political fundraising.”
“Her Hollywood backers are not going anywhere,” she continued. “They’re loyalists who will stay with her and follow her lead.” There are only six primaries left, and “her backers here strongly believe she has earned the right to stay in the race and compete.”
Still, Hollywood donors aren’t dumb and, privately, a lot of Clinton’s biggest supporters are starting to look at what they can do to back Obama should Clinton leave the scene.
“At this point,” said one studio executive who requested anonymity, “the handwriting is on the wall.” Recently, however, there have been no high-profile defections in show business like those of former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern or former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrews, both of whom switched their support from Clinton to Obama.
Hollywood contributors are mostly maxed out as far as their political donations for the primary season, already giving the highest amount — $2,300 – allowable under federal election laws.
And it’s not like Obama hasn’t attracted his own share of Hollywood dollars. The two contenders are nearly tied in entertainment business donations, with Obama collecting $3.2 million through the end of March compared to Clinton’s $3.1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee has collected just $588,725 from showbiz types.)
The day before Clinton’s Century City fundraiser next week, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean will also be making a pit stop in Los Angeles, meeting with approximately 40 top donors and fundraisers at the private Regency Club to outline the Democrats’ campaign against McCain this year.
He’ll no doubt be getting an earful from Clinton supporters and others about the seating of delegates from Michigan and Florida at the DNC convention in August, with the two states seen by her boosters as one of the few deus ex machina available to her.