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Obama Has More Hollywood Fundraising Events Planned for Fall

Paul Ryan Blue - H2012
Paul Ryan

The president’s loyalists hope that the town’s anxiety over Paul Ryan will scare entertainment industry donors and activists into action.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In the wake of Mitt Romney's Aug. 11 announcement of Tea Party favorite Paul Ryan as his presidential running mate, entertainment industry politicos are mulling new ways to raise money and stir up support for President Obama. According to sources, several of Obama's top Hollywood backers want to stage concerts in New York, Chicago and San Francisco featuring A-list singers performing duets while urging young people to vote.

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No dates have been set, but organizers hope to schedule the concerts -- which would be streamed live online -- during the last two weeks of September. Sources say Obama supporters also are working to bring the president back to Los Angeles for fund-raisers in late September or early October.

From the start of the 2012 campaign, the president and first lady have sold out every big-ticket L.A. or New York event at which they've appeared. But major donations from Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill Maher and Morgan Freeman notwithstanding, Democrats have lagged in enlisting Hollywood support compared with 2008 levels.

Obama loyalists hope that the town's anxiety over Ryan, 42, will scare entertainment industry donors and activists into action, particularly in advance of the Democratic National Convention that begins Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. The Wisconsin congressman, they point out, not only favors the elimination of Medicare as it now exists but also the privatization of Social Security, abolition of the home mortgage-tax deduction and ending most federal assistance to education and local health care.

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Ryan was a hot topic at Michelle Obama's $2,500-a-family L.A. fund-raisers Aug. 12 at the homes of rocker Gwen Stefani and Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer. And Tennis Channel chief Ken Solomon, co-chair of the DNC's Southern California finance committee, says the change in mood already is apparent: "Clearly, having the author of the most radically conservative budget plan in modern history will further energize our contributors."