Barack Obama can still count on Hollywood

Washington: Long known as a liberal bastion, Hollywood has always supported the Democratic party and its backing for President Barack Obama hasn`t diminished any this election cycle.

Amongst his supporters, he can count Hollywood A-listers ranging from Robert Redford to Leonardo DiCaprio; from Barbra Streisand to Scarlett Johansson; and from Morgan Freeman to Samuel L. Jackson.

Actor George Clooney is perhaps Obama`s most tireless supporter in Tinsel Town, having hosted a fundraiser for the president at his home in Los Angeles in May. The event raised nearly $15 million.

Clooney has organized other such events too, including an event in August in Geneva that raised approximately $625,000 dollars for the incumbent. Clooney`s efforts have led Obama to publicly describe the actor as "a good friend".

Kal Penn, a well-liked actor of Indian origin, known for starring in the popular Harold and Kumar film series as well as the hit TV show House, actually put his acting career on hold to join the Obama administration.

He served on-and-off for two years as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, with brief breaks for acting roles.

In February 2012, Penn became a co-chair for Obama`s re-election campaign and subsequently spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he encouraged young people to go out and vote.

Other celebrities have appeared in political advertisements, including Jackson in a fervent and colourfully-worded appeal to go out and vote.

Another, actor Ed Norton, teamed up with Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller to produce a seven-minute documentary called ‘We Hold These Truths’ that encourages ordinary Americans to vote for Obama.

As to whether or not celebrity appeals matter, economists Craig Garthwaite and Timothy Moore calculated that Oprah Winfrey`s public and repeated endorsement of Obama secured him an additional one million votes in the 2008 election.

This time around, though, TV mogul Winfrey has been rather quiet. She has endorsed Obama again, but appears to have restricted her campaign support to private fundraisers and personal donations this year.

There are big names in the Republican camp too, none bigger than the venerable Clint Eastwood. The one-time on-screen gunslinger and personification of `Dirty Harry` made headlines when he endorsed Obama`s challenger Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The appearance, however, reportedly viewed live by about 30 million Americans, took a somewhat surreal turn when the four-time Oscar-winning actor-producer-director chose to berate an empty chair as if it were Obama. Some were impressed; most were left rather baffled.

There are other show business-types supporting the Republican challenger as well: rapper Kid Rock; rock star Meat Loaf; singers and siblings Donny and Marie Osmond. But it`s hard to dispute the fact that Hollywood types generally look to be in Obama`s camp.

Clearly, endorsements from screen icons alone won`t help the president keep his job, but in a close White House race they can`t hurt.

On the last day of campaigning before the actual election, Obama addressed a rally of more than 25,000 supporters in the city of Hollywood.

The twist is that this Hollywood is in the key swing state of Florida, not California, and the voters here don`t always vote Democratic. They did in 2008; Barack Obama will be hoping they do so in 2012 as well.


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