Stars hit the red carpet for Obama, Democrats

By: AP
By: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The campaign trail is taking a detour down the red carpet.

Movie stars Samuel L. Jackson and John Malkovich, big-name directors and other celebrities turned out Tuesday night to contribute to Barack Obama, who is counting on Hollywood's reliable support for Democrats, and the Democratic National Committee.

The guest list for the gala, in which top tickets cost more than $30,000, includes actor Jennifer Beals, models Heidi Klum and Cindy Crawford and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. Also expected to attend is Black Eyed Peas frontman, who created two music videos for Obama during the primary season - including one called "Yes We Can" that set music to clips from his speeches and became an Internet sensation.

Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee will share the money from the fundraiser. Klum's husband, singer Seal, is among the entertainers expected to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

"We hope we do well," Obama told reporters just before he landed in Los Angeles. "Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do."

Shattering records, Obama had raised more than $287 million through the end of May. Last week, he reversed and earlier promise and said he would not take public financing for the general election. The move lifts the cap on what he can spend, allowing him to pour hundreds of millions more into his campaign against Republican John McCain, who has said he would take public financing and has criticized Obama's decision.

Tuesday's asking ticket price for the gala's general reception was $2,300. Tickets to a VIP dinner were $28,500. Obama aides were expecting at least 500 people, though more were likely. The Democratic National Committee would get the $28,500 donations and Obama would get the $2,300 share.

McCain and the Republican National Committee raised a combined $7 million at a similar joint fundraiser in New York last month that was hosted by New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.

The list of famous donors who already have given to Obama includes George Clooney, Paul Newman, Matt Damon, Larry David, Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey.

The Center for Responsive Politics, analyzing fundraising data released May 21, said Obama had collected more than $4 million from the movie, TV and music businesses. His opponent in the Democratic primaries, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, raised $3.4 million from those groups, and McCain managed $636,000.

McCain's boldface backers include producer Jerry Bruckheimer and "Saturday Night Live" executive producer Lorne Michaels.

The entertainment industry gave $33.1 million to federal candidates in 2004, about 70 percent of it going to Democrats, the center said.

Along with the big names he hopes to attract in Hollywood, Obama wants to win over the Los Angeles donors who supported Clinton in the primaries.

"I suspect that we'll see some longtime folks that have helped us, I'm sure there will be some Hillary people that are coming over," Obama said Tuesday.

Continuing that push, he will meet Thursday in Washington with Clinton and her former financial backers in an attempt to ease them onto his side.

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