Celebrities raise big money for Obama

October 25th, 2008 - 9:34 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Oct 25 (DPA) Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, 47, has received unparalleled support from the traditionally liberal and glamorous US entertainment industry.Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodie Foster, Scarlett Johannson and Halle Berry - those are just a few of the prominent names on the list of Obama’s campaign workers.

Republican rival John McCain, 72, has fewer but equally large names, on his side: Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Tom Selleck.

Political activism has a long tradition in Hollywood, interrupted only by the McCarthy era, when writers and actors were blacklisted as communists during the 1950s Cold War hysteria.

This year’s political passions are particularly strong as Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) threatened to emigrate if a Republican is elected. Matt Damon quipped in a YouTube interview that imagining Sarah Palin as president was like something out of a “really bad Disney movie.”

From the other side of the political coin, Oscar winner and the old conservative reliable Jon Voight (Coming Home) said Obama “falls short in any way” one looks at him.

It’s not clear how much influence such prominent advocates have on voters. The polling institute Pew Research Center determined that stars have little influence on the outcome.

Yet not only actors but authors, artists and many scientists are passionate in pushing Obama, their clear favorite, for the presidency.

Just days before, a group of 65 US Nobel Prize recipients issued a dramatic call to support the Democratic ticket.

“The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology,” read their manifesto.

The bestselling author Stephen King, Nobel literature laureate Toni Morrison, cult writer Paul Auster and many others hope that a black president would send a signal to the pockets of racism that persist around the country despite four decades of civil rights progress.

“I think that the importance to blacks would be tremendous,” author Philip Roth said in a recent interview.

Superstar Angelina Jolie says it’s not Obama’s race, but his engagement for human rights and world justice that motivate her to support him.

If star power doesn’t affect the final voters’ decisions, it at least puts coins into campaign coffers. Rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel raised $7 million for Obama’s campaign last week, playing hits like Glory Days and Born to Run to serenade voters in the final election phase.

In addition, Obama has taken in nearly $6 million from entertainment firms, compared to a meagre $1 million for McCain.

TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey was the first star to climb into the ring with Obama very early this year.

She has since receded to the sidelines, taking a low profile to spare Obama from the verbal beating he has taken from the McCain campaign, which has sought to portray him as a celebrity of little substance and no understanding of common people. Those taunts grew stronger after Berlin drew his largest crowd ever, of 200,000, to the famous Victory Column in July.

Only once did Obama turn down a star who wanted to do battle for him.

When the popular young actress Lindsay Lohan, whose fight against alcohol and drug addiction is well known, offered to hold a series of events for young voters, the Obama campaign gave a polite no.

“That is not exactly the kind of high-profile star who would be a positive for us,” the campaign noted.

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