While liberals in Hollywood are busy reaffirming their support for President Barack Obama, conservatives generally are keeping quiet — or sending mixed messages — about their feelings toward the presidential race, The Hill reports
Although the conventional wisdom has it that Obama’s base feels lukewarm toward him while conservatives are energized to give him a shellacking, that’s not how it’s playing out in Tinsel town.
The shyness of Hollywood’s conservatives marks a 180-degree turn from their modus operandi in 2008. In that race, they made their choices quickly and publicly.
So what accounts for the change? Politicos in California list several factors, including uninspiring choices, the lack of a conservative candidate who has clearly risen above the pack, and a divisive political climate.
A “hostile” political environment explains much of the reticence, Adam Mendelsohn, a former aide to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, told The Hill. “The country is very fractured. There’s a lot of frustration,” he said.
“Whereas before celebrities could get involved in politics and not risk alienating themselves from vast consumers and audiences, it is a different environment right now, and maybe some of the celebrities are asking themselves if they want to risk the blowback that goes with getting involved in such a highly charged election.”
Prominent conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart says many Republicans exist in Hollywood but want to stay private about it because they’re worried it could hurt their careers in the liberal-dominated industry.
Two Republicans who don’t have to worry about getting work in Hollywood but haven’t made endorsements are actors Clint Eastwood
and Kelsey Grammer
. Eastwood has praised businessman Herman Cain but hasn’t formally endorsed him.
Grammer “has not endorsed any candidate,” his spokesman told The Hill, though he appeared in a “Troopathon” fundraiser with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in June. In 2008, Grammer endorsed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the primaries and campaigned for Republican nominee John McCain.
Actor Gary Sinise
, who backed McCain in 2008, doesn’t intend to support a candidate this time around, his spokeswoman told The Hill. “Gary isn’t registered with any political party, and isn’t endorsing a candidate.”
Given the fickle nature of celebrities, it’s not surprising that some give mixed messages when it comes to endorsements. For example, singer Barry Manilow
said in September that he agrees with “just about everything” Texas Rep. Ron Paul espouses. But his representative later said that Manilow, who gave money to both Paul and Democratic presidential candidates in 2008, will vote for Obama this time around.
As for individual Republican candidates, front-runner Mitt Romney hasn’t garnered much support in Hollywood, The Hill reports.
Actress/model Cindy Crawford
, an Obama supporter in 2008, attended a Romney fundraiser in May. But publicist Annett Wolf said she showed up at the event as a favor to her friend Tagg Romney, the candidate’s son. Crawford hasn’t made up her mind about 2012, Wolf said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has attracted the support of actors Stephen Baldwin
, Dean Cain
, and Janine Turner
. Kiss rock band star Gene Simmons
and singer Pat Boone
also back the Texan. “He will be our next president,” Simmons tweeted in August. “I’ve never been wrong.”
Perry’s longtime pal Russell Crowe
hasn’t yet said whether he’ll endorse his buddy’s campaign.
Another candidate who has garnered some star-powered backing is Bachmann. Singer Wayne Newton
, a friend of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, made his support official after the debate in Las Vegas. Newton offered the candidate a hug and kiss during an interview on Fox News, saying, “I will support this beautiful lady as long as she wants to go.”
Actor/journalist Ben Stein
and popular author Dean Koontz
have donated money to Bachmann.
Actor Vince Vaughn
is backing Paul. “I was just impressed with his talking points” on the Federal Reserve, the actor said in September when introducing the candidate at a conference. “His philosophies are consistent. They do not waver based on polls or public opinion.”
As for Obama, he’s milking Hollywood for all its worth. He’s traveled there twice in the last 10 weeks, attending fundraisers with actors such as Will Smith
, Eva Longoria
, Melanie Griffith
, and Antonio Banderas
But that Hollywood activity may come back to bite him. In a time of 9 percent unemployment, the average American voter may not be so pleased to see the president whooping it up with the famous and rich.
And Hollywood endorsements might not matter that much anymore anyway, says the former Schwarzenegger aide Mendelsohn. “We live in a culture that is completely oversaturated with celebrities — reality TV, blogs, websites and TMZ — and I think that a lot of the allure of the celebrity doesn’t have the impact it had,” he told The Hill.
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