Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the annual meeting… (Josie Lepe / MCT )
Hillary Clinton will return to California in November to accept an award from a Santa Monica-based nonprofit — and spend some quality time with Hollywood moguls who would be crucial if she decides to mount a White House bid in 2016.
The Nov. 8 gala for the International Medical Corps is expected to be attended by several hundred people who are donating as much as $100,000 each to the nonprofit. Hollywood titans and major Democratic fundraisers Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg and their wives are among the hosts of the benefit. Katzenberg is expected to be a key donor for an independent effort that hopes to boost Clinton’s bid for the White House if she decides to run. That entity, Priorities USA, was crucial to President Obama’s campaign.
The group that will benefit from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel event was founded in 1984 to provide humanitarian aid during global crises. It also trains local residents in 30 countries to help their communities. An International Medical Corps official said it is honoring the former secretary of State because of her work on behalf of women and children.
“She’s a longtime advocate for women’s health and women and children refugees,” said Margaret Aguirre, director of global communications, adding that invitations are expected to go out in coming days.
Clinton saw the group’s efforts firsthand in the Congo, and has been an advocate for its mission, she said.
“She’s been a real champion of women’s issues, which is central to what we do,” Aguirre said, citing Clinton’s efforts to increase access to healthcare and education.
The visit will be Clinton’s fourth to California in recent months, as she debates whether to mount a second presidential bid. Since she stepped down from her secretary of State post in February, Clinton’s trips to the Golden State and across the nation have been a mix of awards and paid speeches. In August, she spoke to a business travel group in San Diego and the American Bar Assn. in San Francisco. In May, she accepted an award named after the late Secretary of State Warren Christopher from the Pacific Council on International Policy, also at the Beverly Wilshire.
The Beverly Wilshire holds a bit of history for the Clintons. Mickey Kantor, President Clinton’s former trade representative and Commerce secretary, noted in May as he introduced Hillary Clinton at the Pacific Council gala at the hotel that her husband held a sparsely attended presidential fundraiser in the same ballroom in 1992.
"On that night 21 years ago … we knew Hillary Clinton would be a ground-breaking first lady, but I doubt any of us imagined she would follow in [Christopher's] footsteps to the State Department," he said. "And what extraordinary things she would do, tirelessly traveling the globe, patiently working for peace, standing up to the bullies of the world, empowering and inspiring women and girls everywhere.”
"And Hillary continues to be in focus and even the subject of some speculation," he said to cheers and applause at the pointed reference to her future options.
The November award will take place in the same spot, and will almost certainly be the subject of the same speculation.