Hefner pledges support for Obama

Playboy empire founder makes pitch for the planet

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TORONTO -- Barack Obama's popularity may be plunging, but the U.S. president retains a staunch friend in Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

"We've created the ability to destroy the planet," the king of bunnydom told an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival. "We need to learn to live together. I hope (Barack) Obama will be part of that."

Hefner and his entourage were on hand to support Canadian director Brigitte Berman's biopic "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel," which had its world premiere Saturday.

The octogenarian hedonist reminded the Elgin audience that he and the U.S. president are both from Illinois, and that his daughter, Christie Hefner, was an early supporter of the Obama's successful White House run.

Hefner added Obama's presidency is getting "side-tracked" by the health care debate, and remains challenged as it tackles the lingering recession.

But he blessed Obama's liberal credentials, especially after President George W. Bush.

"I was not a supporter of Bush. I felt we got lost along the way," the Playboy empire founder said at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto as Berman's documentary about Hefner's early battles for civil rights and racial equality debuted in Toronto.

His backing for Obama only adds to speculation that Christie Hefner will step down as chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises Inc. on Jan. 31, 2009 to serve Obama's White House in some unspecified post.

Hefner was at the Toronto festival with 19-year-old twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon and new girlfriend Crystal Harris in tow.
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