UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF.—At an amphitheater next to the lots and sets of Universal Studios, and fresh from a weekend swing with Oprah Winfrey, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday again used the lure of celebrity to generate support and cash for his campaign.
From comedian Chris Rock at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem last month, to singer Macy Gray and other artists at Chicago’s Riveria Theater in Uptown on Friday, to Winfrey in three crucial early voting states, Obama wraps up a string of coast-to-coast events spiced by celebrities with a concert where Ne-You and the Goo Goo Dolls were expected to perform.
The invitation include names of a younger generation of Hollywood stars, including actresses Jessica Biels, Scarlett Johansson and Olivia Wilde; actors Taye Diggs and Enrique Murciano and Brayan Greenberg and singer Nicole Scherzinger.
After a stop in Las Vegas earlier Monday, Obama hit southern California for a low-dollar fund-raiser at the Gibson Amphitheater aimed at young voters, with about 6,000 anticipated; he hosts a high-dollar event at Los Angeles Union Station on Tuesday. Both fund-raisers are expected to yield $500,000.
OBAMA ORGANIZING THE EARLY CALIFORNIA VOTE
California stands as one of the prizes in the “Super Tuesday” Feb. 5 round of primaries where delegate rich states Illinois and New York will also vote.
Little noted, however, is that absentee ballots in California will start to be available on Jan. 7, just days after the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus and that large numbers of primary voters here—an estimated 40 per cent of Democrats-- take advantage of the vote-by mail option and organizing this early California early vote is a part of the Obama ground game here.
Though Obama is behind chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Golden State, Steve Westly, Obama’s California co-chair, said the early voting start will help Obama if he has a strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Westly hosted a fund-raised at his home for Obama last Nov. 14. At the time, there was “clearly a large gap between him and Sen. Clinton that did not seem to be budging.”
But polls showing Obama is closing the gap with Clinton, a good showing in recent debates, a strong speech at the Iowa State Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson dinner and Winfrey hitting the campaign trail for Obama in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire has changed the dynamic, Westly said.
“Something has happened,” said Westly. “It’s dramatic.”
Clinton was also in Los Angeles on Monday, holding her final event here before the Iowa caucus. Her campaign expects to reap $1 million on Tuesday in a San Franciso fund-raiser billed as a “Conversation with” Warren Buffet.
Buffet—who has been something of a mentor to Obama—is not endorsing in the race.