UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF.---Actor James Whitmore portrayed Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman and on Monday night, at a fund-raiser for Barack Obama he took to the stage again to say the Illinois senator had the “wisdom” to lead the nation.
From Whitmore to actor Kal Penn (who is volunteering in Des Moines for the campaign), singer Ne-You, the Goo Goo Dolls and the former Chicago television journalist Giselle Fernandez now living in Los Angeles, a friend of Obama's, the personalities took the stage at the Gibson Amphitheater here as warm-up acts for Obama, fresh from a weekend swing with Oprah Winfrey.
“After Oprah, that’s a whole other story,” Obama told the crowd, who gave him a thunderous reception.
Following a stop in Las Vegas earlier Monday, Obama hit southern California for a low-dollar fund-raiser at the amphitheater that is part of the the lots and sets of Universal Studios. Obama hosts a high-dollar event at Los Angeles Union Station on Tuesday. Both fund-raisers were expected to raise about $500,000.
The evening event was aimed at young voters—though there was a mixture of ages and races-- and like the rallies with Winfrey, it was also used as an organizational tool. Each person got the names and phone numbers of potential Obama voters when they walked in along with a call script/
California field director Buffy Wicks role-played the crowd—about 5,000 (a bit less than expected) how to make a canvassing phone calls and then stopped everything for a few minutes so people could cell phone their list.
She also asked the Californians to go to neighboring Nevada to work in the campaign in their January caucus.
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. However, absentee ballots are available starting on Jan. 7—and about 40 percent of the Democratic primary voters her send in their ballots early.
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 Obama could start reaping gains in California with momentum gained in recent weeks and if he has a strong showings in Iowa and Jan. 8 in New Hampshire.
Clinton was also in Los Angeles with her own stars at a fundraiser: Adrien Grenier of 'Entourage', cast members of ‘Friday Night Lights', NBC president Ben Silverman, old friends Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, director Bret Ratner and actress Anna Faris.
On Tuesday in San Francisco, she will pick up $1 million at a fund-raiser featuring Warren Buffet –who is not endorsing and is something of a mentor to Obama.
UPDATE...Contenders Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson were also in Los Angeles on Monday.