Monday, April 16, 2007

Obama Scores in Hollywood, among Clinton Supporters

Earlier this month, Barack Obama stunned the political world by announcing he had raised $25 million in fundraising, almost matching the haul of political heavyweight Hillary Clinton. Today, we are getting a better picture of just who donated to whom. In what has been titled the "Hollywood Primary", CNN reports which celebrities opened their wallets so far.

Elizabeth Taylor, Chevy Chase, Candice Bergen, Michael Douglas, and Don Henley gave Hillary Clinton the legal maximum, $4600.

Zach Braff, Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, and Tobey Maguire each gave Barack Obama $2300. Tom Hanks and the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines maxed out with $4600 each.

And some celebrities, like Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg, couldn't decide on just one candidate, so they gave to at least three.

As far as Republicans go, CNN also reports Rudy Giuliani was the big winner.

* "Frasier" and "Cheers" star Kelsey Grammer donated $2,300 in March.
* Actor and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant John O'Hurley donated the maximum $4,600 in March (O'Hurley played the eccentric "J. Peterman" character on "Seinfeld").
* Former "Saturday Night Live" regular Adam Sandler donated $2,100 in February.
* Actor and conservative commentator Ben Stein donated $750 in February.

So who really is the big winner there? Well, Barack Obama has Dennis Haysbert, who was the commanding President on 24 so he gets the edge right there. Giuliani though has quite the intellectual support from the likes of Grammer and O'Hurley (or, at least they played intellectuals on television) and of course Ben Stein. I still think the Haysbert contribution is the best one so far.

As for the "real" fundraising battle I wrote when the numbers were first released earlier this month that Obama's fundraising was even more impressive because most his money was raised for the primary, while Clinton focused on both the primary and general election. The New York Times examined the campaign contribution filings in depth this morning, and what they uncovered shows just how much of a force Obama has become in just a few short months.
As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton seeks to reassemble the Democratic money machine her husband built, some of its major fund-raisers have already signed on with Senator Barack Obama.

Among the biggest fund-raisers for Mr. Obama’s campaign are as many as a half-dozen former guests of the Clinton White House. At least two are close enough to the Clintons to have slept in the Lincoln bedroom.

At minimum, a dozen were major fund-raisers for President Bill Clinton. At least four worked in the administration and one, James Rubin, is a son of a former Clinton Treasury Secretary, Robert E. Rubin. About two dozen of the top Obama fund-raisers have contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns or political action committee, some as recently as a few months ago.

And as I speculated earlier, Obama dwarfed Clinton in primary funding. Of Obama's almost $25.8 million raised, $24.8 million is earmarked for the primary election. Hillary Clinton raised $26 million, but only $19.1 million can be used in the primary. The remaining $6.9 million is untouchable until the general election, should she get that far.

The amount of big name donors heading over to Obama has to worry the Clintons. They tried very hard to make it clear to their donors that they did not want anybody donating to the other Democratic hopefuls, but yet Obama was able to woo away millions of dollars. Clinton may still be leading in the polls, but there does seem to a general unease about her candidacy among Democrats. Whether they don't believe she can win, or she's too hawkish on the War in Iraq, what seemed like a slam dunk nomination is looking anything but right now. And as more donors make their way into Obama's camp, and more people hear his story and his ideas for the country, Clinton may find herself and her lead, slipping.

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