In the battle for Hollywood endorsements - and cash - Clinton rules

Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:01am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Grant Smith

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' positions on fracking, free tuition and breaking up big banks wouldn't sound out of place in an Oscar winning-actor's acceptance speech.

But in famously liberal Hollywood, long used as an ATM by Democratic campaigns, Sanders' message is not resonating as loudly as in other progressive bastions. The more moderate Hillary Clinton has far outpaced the Vermont senator in fundraising and has a deep line-up of A-list stars and top executives among her backers.

Celebrities don't sway votes, but they can persuade people to listen to a candidate's message, said historian Steven Ross, author of "Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics."

"It puts a candidate on their radar," he said.

Hollywood actors, studio executives and other employees of the film, TV and music industries have donated at least $8.4 million to Clinton's campaign and the independent Super PAC that supports her bid, Priorities USA Action, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign finance data through March 31.

A pair of Clinton fundraisers held by actor George Clooney this month, at which tickets went for as much as $353,000 per couple, is not included in that total, but were reported by Deadline Hollywood to have raised an additional $15 million.

By contrast, Sanders' campaign had raised about $1 million from entertainment industry donors through March 31, according to the campaign finance data. The Vermont senator, who called the price of the Clooney event "obscene," is not associated with a Super PAC and says he does not court wealthy donors. (Graphic on Hollywood flows to Sanders and Clinton:

All Republican presidential candidates combined collected $460,000, roughly 5 percent of entertainment industry donations, the data showed.   Continued...

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives with singer Katy Perry during a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, October 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Scott Morgan/File photo