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CAUSE CELEBRE

Guess who's not coming to dinner?

December 15, 2006|Tina Daunt | Times Staff Writer

Among the many politicians making the rounds in Hollywood in recent weeks, there is one notable exception: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The senator from New York -- who raised more than $1.2 million from the entertainment industry for her reelection campaign -- hasn't been to town since spring, leaving some supporters wondering if she's trying to distance herself from the West Coast glitterati in preparation for a presidential run.

"It's about Sen. Clinton playing the center," publicist and political activist Howard Bragman said. "Hollywood is a two-edged sword for her. She certainly has been here many times and has and will continue to generate millions of dollars from the entertainment community.

"At the same time she is sensitive to the perception of Hollywood as the liberal capital of the U.S. and wants to avoid being tarred with that at all costs. Ultimately, there is too much money here for her to ignore this community and she will come, but I would expect it to be at low-key events."

Celebrity political consultant Donna Bojarsky said Clinton doesn't need to come right now. Meanwhile, other Democrats believed to have presidential aspirations have been here in the last six weeks, including Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

"She doesn't need to come introduce herself like some of the other contenders," Bojarsky said of Clinton. "And her bank account is doing OK. I'm sure she'll be out, and making calls at appropriate moments."

Indeed, Clinton has phoned supporters here, inviting a number of them, including her West Coast campaign chairman, Sim Farar, and political consultant Andy Spahn, to private gatherings on the East Coast.

The senator's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said Clinton has not left New York except to go to Washington since before the election, "but certainly looks forward to visiting with friends in California in the new year."

Clooney to brief Annan on trip

George Clooney, who led a delegation of activists to China and Egypt on a Darfur mission this week, is set to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York today to brief him on their efforts.

The Oscar winner -- accompanied by fellow actor Don Cheadle and Olympic athletes Joey Cheek and Tegla Loroupe -- began the trip seven days ago, traveling to Beijing to meet with high-ranking government officials to seek help in ending the ethnic strife in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed since 2003.

The China trip was key because the nation maintains close ties with the Sudanese government; it is also Sudan's biggest oil customer.

In addition, Beijing has resisted any attempt by the U.N. to force Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, a western region of the country.

On Wednesday, the group traveled to Egypt, where it met with Gamal and Suzanne Mubarak -- son and wife of Egypt's president -- and with Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

According to the Associated Press, Clooney told reporters in Egypt that he was focusing on trying to find some way to at least ensure protection for those who have been displaced in the fighting. "We are still talking about all the problems in Darfur right now," Clooney said upon arriving at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

"We are hoping to just constantly keep the conversation going on humanitarian issues, that's our big goal, trying to stay out of the political arena and just trying to find humanitarian issues."

Egypt has been trying to mediate with its southern neighbor Sudan over resolving the Darfur crisis, which began three years ago when rebels of ethnic African tribes took up arms against the Arab-dominated government, complaining of discrimination and mistreatment. The government is accused of responding with a brutal counterinsurgency led by Arab militias. Some 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes in the fighting.

tina.daunt@latimes.com

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