Mr. Paxton, who had arrived late, made his way into a private room decorated with Spanish tiles and wound up talking to an audience of entertainment lawyers, lighting designers, bloggers and publicists about a project he was working on for HBO, about John F. Kennedy’s last days.
As he made comparisons to the charisma of Mr. Obama and Kennedy, R. J. Cutler, who produced The War Room, a documentary about Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign, nodded in agreement.
Mr. Cutler, referring to the effectiveness of this year’s Clinton war room against Mr. Obama, said, “I think they can stop him, but imagine if they didn’t stop him—imagine what world that would be like.”
Later, Mr. Paxton led a group of Obama supporters out of the club down the block to Katsuya, a new Philippe Starck-designed Japanese restaurant. Along the way, he described why he had committed to Mr. Obama, who he heard speak for the first time at a fund-raiser about three weeks earlier.
“I turned off to politicians and the whole scene for so long, and then this guy comes along,” he said, as he walked over a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame dedicated to Red Buttons. He said he was depressed by the cynicism his children expressed about the office of the president. “That’s horrible,” he said. “Idealism is the bastion of youth.”
“But this guy, he feels presidential,” he said.
A few paparazzi stationed outside the restaurant snapped his picture.
“I can see him in the world theater. I can see him with world dignitaries,” he continued. “Again, I don’t need to do this stuff. I got a nice career. I don’t need to lay it on the line for anybody. I just find that I want to get behind this guy, I really do.”
“Can we get in here?” he said, walking up to the hostess of the restaurant, which seemed booked solid. “Thanks.”
A little while later, a Japanese woman sat Mr. Paxton’s party in a small, private room partitioned from the rest of the eatery by a white curtain. They ate salmon with caviar, beef and foie gras, onion-encased halibut and a variety of sushi.
“All of us are sitting around the table tonight for one reason,” said Mr. Paxton to his fellow Obama supporters. “And that’s pretty cool.”
Late in the night, as Mr. Paxton drove through Silver Lake and Echo Park and detoured to a small hill with a view of downtown Los Angeles, he pointed out buildings in front of which Buster Keaton performed his pratfalls, and streets where Chinatown was filmed, and where the “best tacos in North America” are served, and where you would not want your car to break down. Throughout the tour, he kept coming back to his admiration for Mr. Obama, repeating, “Idealism is the ba
stion of youth.”
ON THE MORNING of Feb. 1, Hillary Clinton began campaigning with an entourage of supportive California elected officials, eliciting roars of approval in sprawling gyms and convention centers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose from the largest and loudest and youngest crowds she has drawn this entire campaign season. At her last stop of the day, in San Francisco, Mrs. Clinton deployed her own celebrity endorsements.
An effusive, now-white-haired Ted Danson introduced her on the stage of the ornate Orpheum Theatre as a “sympathetic, warm, wise, beautiful woman.” His wife, the actress Mary Steenburgen, wore a black dress and shimmering black boots up to her knees and testified that Mrs. Clinton’s “belly laugh is more raucous and dirty than mine, which is saying something.”
When the surrogates stepped off the stage, Mrs. Clinton stood alone and delivered a detail-packed policy speech.
For her last event in California, the following morning, in a gym at the State University of California in East Los Angeles, the Clinton show started with live music performed by the Mariachi Divas (organizers asked them to leave before Mrs. Clinton actually spoke) and celebrity warm-up acts.
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