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Oprah to host Obama fundraiser

July 17, 2007 |  8:35 am

Invitations have been sent out for what promises to be a must-attend event for much of California's Democratic elite, particularly those in the entertainment industry: a Sept. 8 fundraiser for Barack Obama at Oprah Winfrey's home in the Santa Barbara area.

In the best tradition of Hollywood, the e-mail touting the afternoon gathering doesn't mince words, promoting it as no less than "the most exciting Barack Obama event of the year anywhere ..." And the invite urges haste in responding, saying: "Please get back to us soon before it sells out."

Getting in the door costs $2,300 --- the maximum individual contribution for the primary season. But, as is usually the case at such high-profile shindigs, there are incentives to gain a little extra face-time with the candidate.

Those who can tap friends and relatives for contributions to Obama's presidential campaign that total at least $25,000 gain entree to a VIP reception; those responsible for at least $50,000 in donations make the cut for a VIP dinner.

The workers at the Santa Barbara airport best rest up before the fundraiser; we're guessing the tarmac there is going to be packed with private jets. (And tables selling carbon offsets?)

As The Times' Tina Daunt wrote in early June, Hillary Clinton --- bolstered by Steven Spielberg's decision to endorse her presidential candidacy --- appeared to have beat back an early challenge from Obama for supremacy among the Hollywood crowd. But the Oprah event signals that the Obama camp is not going to cede ground without a fight.

Oprah endorsed Obama, who she got to know through their mutual home bases in Chicago, back in the spring --- the first time she had ever officially embraced a White House contender. At the time, she told CNN's Larry King, "I haven’t done it in the past because ... I didn’t know anybody well enough to be able to say, ‘I believe in this person.’ ”

While folks on the West Coast set about arranging their schedules for the Oprah affair, on the East Coast the Obama campaign today received the endorsement of Adrian Fenty, the young (36), recently elected mayor of the District of Columbia.

For Tina's complete new story on the Oprah-Obama bash, check Wednesday morning's Times or click here.

-- Don Frederick

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