Hollywood conservatives: Abandoning McCain?
As we head into the final week of the presidential campaign, it's becoming apparent that Sarah Palin may have solidified John McCain's appeal with his GOP base, but the VP pick has wreaked havoc with McCain's support -- such as it is -- in Hollywood. I was just on the phone with manager-producer Eric Gold, who handles Jim Carrey and Ellen DeGeneres, who had been a longtime McCain supporter and contributor, going back to McCain's quixotic 2000 presidential campaign. Thing is, Gold just cast his absentee ballot -- for Barack Obama. What makes Gold's conversion especially revealing is that he is hardly an Obama admirer.
"Obama has done nothing," Gold says. "He has no real experience. I mean, being a community organizer and running for president -- who are we kidding? In the debates, he said nothing -- less than nothing. He's just selling temperament." But after McCain picked Palin as his VP, Gold, who calls himself a "disenfranchised Democrat," began to sour on his longtime political hero. (As have other McCain supporters.)
"If McCain had picked Lindsey Graham or Joe Lieberman, I'd probably be voting differently," says Gold. "But to pick someone of such lightweight proportions as Sarah Palin, that was the nail in the coffin. What he did by picking her was say: I'll do anything to win. He didn't care about the moderates or the independents, which unfortunately meant he didn't care about me. The real John McCain would never have done that. He went against his own principles."
Gold says that for years he stood up for McCain in a hostile environment -- liberal Hollywood. "Obviously this is a town that's not very sympathetic to Republicans," he says. "But his pandering, first with Palin, then with the speeches about Obama being a pal of terrorists, it wasn't worthy of McCain, the guy who was a different kind of Republican. All my liberal friends would say: This is the guy you're standing up for? I was embarrassed. I have lots of doubts about Obama, but everything John McCain has done in the past two months has just driven me back to the Democratic Party."
Gold is not the only McCain fan beginning to break ranks with the Republican candidate over his Palin pick and campaign tactics. Later today I'll be posting an essay from another prominent Hollywood McCain supporter -- who voted for George Bush in 2004 -- who's finding it hard to pull the GOP lever this time around. Stay tuned.
Photo of John McCain by Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press