Obama Mines Hollywood Gold, Draws Fire

ByABC News via logo
February 21, 2007, 10:55 AM

Feb. 21, 2007 — -- At the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards Tuesday night at the posh Beverly Hilton -- the site of last month's Golden Globes -- the stars came out for another million-dollar affair honoring a thin, statuesque, idol of color.

Though Hollywood is focused on the Oscar race to air Sunday, the icon in question was presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Obama's presidential candidacy is thrilling Tinseltown's liberals and clearly upsetting the campaign of his chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., which took umbrage with comments made by one of Obama's chief Hollywood fundraisers, media mogul David Geffen.

Only hours after Obama had boarded a plane for Iowa, comments that Geffen made to The New York Times slamming Clinton prompted her camp's ire.

"Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?" Geffen told the Times' Maureen Dowd.

Geffen helped former President Clinton raise almost $20 million during that era, and spent at least one night at the White House's fabled Lincoln Bedroom.

"Obama is inspirational, and he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family," Geffen told Dowd.

Geffen also alluded to possible campaign distractions caused by Bill Clinton's personal life should his wife secure the Democratic nomination, saying, "Everybody in politics lies, but [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling."

The founder of Geffen Records continued, "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person," calling the former president "a reckless guy" who "gave his enemies a lot of ammunition to hurt him and to distract the country."

This morning, Clinton aide Howard Wolfson demanded that Obama remove Geffen from his campaign and return the money he had helped raise.

"While Sen. Obama was denouncing 'slash and burn' politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Sen. Clinton and her husband," Wolfson said.

"If Sen. Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign, and return his money," the Clinton backer said.