She skyrocketed to internet stardom prancing around New York City in provocative clothing proclaiming her love for then-candidate Barack Obama. But did the famed “Obama Girl” almost become a “Hillary Girl?”
“Terry McAuliffe from the Hillary campaign, he actually took me … out to dinner to try to persuade us to go to Hillary’s side.”
That is the claim of Amber Lee Ettinger the 29 year-old actress and model who, for a moment in June, 2007, turned the Democratic primary campaign upside down. In an interview with ABC News for the 20/20 special “Generation YouTube,” Ettinger said, “I thought that was pretty funny we got taken out to dinner to kind of switch teams.”
The heavyweight political brawl between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is now ancient history. But you’ll remember back in mid-2007, Barack Obama was running well behind Hillary Clinton in Democratic primary polls. In June of that month, the web-comedy site “Barely Political,” produced a video entitled, “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama.” After the video was mentioned in a blog by ABC’s Jake Tapper, it went viral, and beyond. Now with 24 million views on YouTube alone, it has become a piece of campaign lore.
Ettinger was merely an actress hired for the 7 hour day it took to tape the video. At the time, she says “people would ask me, what are you working on? And I would tell them, I’m shooting this video about Barack Obama. And half the people I told were like “who?” ”
But after the Tapper treatment and viral explosion, everyone wanted a piece of Ettinger.
“The next morning my house phone was ringing off the hook by every news station wanting to do an interview,” says Ettinger, “So it just kind of was a roller coaster ride of something that I never anticipated.”
But in some ways she says it was the meeting with McAuliffe that was most surprising. McAuliffe, a businessman from Virginia, a long-time friend of the Clinton’s, a past chair of the Democratic National Committee and the chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign is the definition of a campaign heavy hitter.
McAulliffe, for his part doesn’t recall any overture, but does acknowledge meeting Ettinger and the video’s creator Ben Relles. Along with an aide, McAuliffe, “ran into her in a Manhattan bar,” a spokesperson for McAuliffe told ABC News. But did he ask her to switch sides? “He didn’t remember that at all,” said this McAuliffe aide.
It might not matter, because Amber Lee Ettinger declares, “I was only going to sing and dance for one candidate. I didn’t want to be all over the place. ”
In this day an age of political obfuscations, Obama Girl knows squarely where she stands; “I wasn’t going to be a flip-flopper.”