Thursday 14 December 2017

Obama gets new batch of fundraisers

PRESIDENT Obama hit the jackpot with his decision to support gay marriage -- pulling in $1m (€772,000) for his election campaign within 90 minutes of making a stance in favour of same-sex unions. He has also managed to energise his deep-pocketed and influential Hollywood fundraising base.

On Thursday, just before the Prez arrived in LA to attend a $40,000 (€30,902)-a-plate benefit at George Clooney's canyon home (estimated take: $15m (€11.6m), or put another way, more than Mitt Romney has raised in a month), Glee creator Ryan Murphy and his fiance David Miller announced they would follow a June 6 Beverly Hills LGBT fundraising concert with a $40,000 (€30,902)-per-couple dinner at their home.

The couple, who are virgins in the celebrity fundraising dinner stakes, obviously want to up the ante on Clooney's record-breaking take, and are inviting interested parties to become co-hosts by pledging to raise $250,000 (€193,119) for Obama's war-chest.

And according to Opensecrets.org, Obama's donor list is already gaining traction, with long-time Democratic contributors such as Steven Spielberg, Kris Kristofferson and Danny DeVito being joined by the likes of Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Jane Lynch and Hilary Duff.

The Republicans, who are working to raise cash off Romney's opposition to gay marriage, downplayed Obama's Q-rating bounce with a two-pronged approach. "As we get closer to the convention that could change," said Kirsten Kukowski, the Republican National Committee press secretary, referring to Romney's lacklustre popular following, before seeming to contradict herself by adding: "We have the message -- we don't need big names to sell it and distract people from what we should really be talking about, which is jobs and how to fix the economy."

Maybe Gene Simmons and Kid Rock are busy in August.

In teenagers the president trusts

BRISTOL Palin had quite a reaction to the President's gay-marriage endorsement. The 21-year-old took particular issue with Obama's comments that his decision was influenced in part by daughters Malia and Sasha, who have friends with same-sex parents.

"There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents, and Malia and Sasha -- it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them, and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective," Obama said during his announcement on Wednesday, prompting Palin, the single mother, to complain that Obama "made a massive change in a policy position that could affect the entire nation after consulting with his teenage daughters".

She continued: "In general, kids do better growing up in a mother/father home," adding "in this case, it would've been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends' parents are no doubt lovely people, that's not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage".

And she didn't stop there. "I guess we can be glad that Malia and Sasha aren't younger," Palin blogged, "or perhaps today's press conference might have been about appointing Dora the Explorer as Attorney General because of her success in stopping Swiper the Fox."

But Palin probably never counted on Jersey Shore's Jenni "JWoww" Farley being one of her readers. "Bristol should keep her uneducated, ignorant mouth shut," an incensed Farley tweeted on Thursday. "If you're living in the past, you wouldn't have a kid without marriage. Hypocrite. It's 2012!" Farley, 26, wrote.

Probably not what Washington types had in mind when expressing their desire to engage the nation's youth in the political conversation, but hey, at least they're paying attention.

Penn latest twist in Edwards's tale

JOHN Edwards's judgement -- or lack of it -- came under scrutiny again last week when it was revealed he turned to actor Sean Penn for help to spin the bombshell news that his mistress was pregnant while his wife battled cancer. Apparently he believed the Hollywood hell-raiser, who has a record of smacking around photographers, could help keep his 2008 presidential aspirations on track.

Former Edwards campaign speechwriter Wendy Button, who testified in the ongoing corruption trial examining if the disgraced politician used campaign funds to support his mistress Rielle Hunter, said during the summer of 2009 she helped produce more than 13 drafts for a statement Edwards wanted to make to "come clean" about his affair with Hunter and the paternity of their daughter.

The drafts, according to Button, were sent to "a wide-ranging group of friends," including Penn, Crash director Paul Haggis and actress Madeleine Stowe. Button didn't reveal what, if any, feedback the campaign received for the statement, which Edwards eventually released in January 2010.

Penn, who declined to comment, wasn't the only target for Edwards's delusional career-saving plans. Former Edwards economic policy adviser Leo Hindery testified on Thursday that on the night Obama won the Iowa caucus: "He [Edwards] asked me to reach out to the Obama campaign and make clear his availability on the ticket."

Hindery said he contacted former senator Tom Daschle, who responded: "You really want me to do this now?"

After being rejected by Obama, Edwards jockeyed for a position on Hillary Clinton's team -- a suggestion Hindery said that got short shrift.

While the prosecution rested on Thursday without clearly proving Edwards knowingly diverted campaign funds to protect Hunter, one puzzle in this sordid saga was untangled last week when his former aide, Jennifer Palmieri, testified about why the late Elizabeth Edwards stayed by her husband's side for so long.

Palmieri, who is currently on President Obama's communication team, started crying when she told the jury Mrs Edwards feared "there would not be a man who loved her" at her funeral.

"Given that she did not have a long time to live, I think it was hard for her to imagine a life outside of the family that she built," said Palmieri who, along with Mr Edwards and their children, was at Mrs Edwards's bedside when she died in December 2010.

The defence portion of the trial is expected to start tomorrow.

Simpson's diet has silver lining

DON'T count on seeing Jessica Simpson in mom-jeans anytime soon. The former reality star, who along with fiance Eric Johnson welcomed 9lb 13-ounce daughter Maxwell Drew on May 1, is already on a diet.

ABC News is reporting that the ditzy blonde officially signed with Weight Watchers last week to replace Jennifer Hudson as the company's spokesmodel -- for a record $3m (€2.32m) fee.

Given her six-month deadline to appear in "after" ads, it sounds like Simpson, who ballooned during her pregnancy, will earn every cent.

Sunday Independent

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