Hillary Can Learn From Obama's Hollywood Powwows

As the presidential election gains steam, the first item on many a candidate's agenda during this early phase will be fundraising, an important part of any political campaign that sets the course for a politician's reach. As the Democratic party's sole official contender for 2016 thus far, Hillary Clinton will be fundraising in Hollywood, one of the nation's most fertile grounds for donations, attending three events on May 7.

The back-to-back fundraisers consist of a breakfast reception at the home of Catherine Unger, a member of the Women's Political Committee; a luncheon reception hosted by L.A. Law producer Steven Bochco, Sim Farar and Homeland writer and producer Howard Gordon; and wrapping up with dinner at Haim Saban's home. According to Hollywood Reporter, tickets for each event cost $2,700, the legal limit for an individual to contribute to a presidential primary campaign.

That Hollywood is an early pit-stop for Clinton's fundraising efforts is no surprise. Without any real contenders, financial support from the left-leaning Tinseltown — divided between her and Barack Obama in 2008 — will be ample. Their pockets are deep and their desire for another Democrat in the White House is strong — Obama once raised $15 million for his re-election campaign at a single fundraiser hosted by George Clooney in 2012 — but the criticism from Obama's Hollywood fundraising in the past should serve as fair caution to Clinton.

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Obama's Hollywood fundraising trips were made a prime target for attacks while he campaigned for president in 2008. John McCain, his Republican rival, used it to draw a distinction between himself and the then-Illinois senator when speaking to a crowd in Ohio. Accusing Obama of flying "off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends," McCain attempted to highlight his focus on the average American in contrast. He added:

Let me tell you my friends, there’s no place I’d rather be than here with the working men and women of Ohio.
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Should Clinton find the support she is looking for in Hollywood — and there is plenty for her — too-close an association with those in the entertainment industry could dampen her campaign. In 2008 when Obama's popularity was soaring among potential voters, McCain released an attack ad that included flashes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to mock Obama's "celebrity" status while questioning his ability to lead.

In 2012 while seeking re-election, attacks from the GOP intensified as the party painted the sitting president as out-of-touch and more concerned with hobnobbing with celebrities instead of focusing on issues like unemployment.

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While Clinton and Obama are two vastly different kind of candidates — Obama banked on the enthusiasm of young voters for change; Clinton will likely make a case for the middle class and several social issues — perhaps the former Secretary of State could do well to exercise caution in regards to Hollywood fundraising, especially considering she is already facing questions regarding secretive massive foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

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