"The campaign is heating up," said Ken Solomon, co-chairman of the Obama campaign's finance committee for Southern California. "This is the first event where we really have the clear face of the competition. You've got an energized base in that the election is really on and we know who it is we're running against. Plus, it's George Clooney's house. Clearly that has something to do with it."
Fundraising events similar in size and intimacy to the Clooney party typically raise between $1 million and $4 million. Whether Obama will use similar online contests to replicate the success of the Clooney dinner with other celebrity supporters and hosts remains to be seen. But Ross predicted that as the president attempts to draw a wider swath of the public to the polls, including young voters, entertainment shows and personalities will become an increasingly crucial part of his campaign.
"Entertainment is gonna become part of the protein of the campaign, not just the dessert," he said.
As much as the Clooney event is expected to draw, its haul could be dwarfed by the unlimited donations flowing to so-called super PACs, the product of several federal court rulings, including the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case. Talk show host Bill Maher, who gave $1 million to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, is not attending the Clooney fundraiser.