Rob Reiner packs political wallop

By A. James Memmott

November 11, 2007 at 8:57am

Not every candidate would welcome an endorsement from a guy known as “Meathead.”

But when that guy is Rob Reiner — Meathead in the 1970s television hit All in the Family — you take the endorsement and run.

Reiner, the 62-year-old actor, director, comedian and political activist, and one of the most connected people in Hollywood and Democratic politics, came out for Hillary Rodham Clinton in September.

The Reiner backing broke some suspense, as he was, in the words of The Los Angeles Times, “one of Hollywood’s most-courted presidential fence sitters.”

(Reiner had earlier contributed to Clinton, Sen. Christopher Dodd, former Sen. John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.)

Quickly getting to work on Clinton’s candidacy, Reiner and his wife, Michele, hosted a pre-60th birthday party for the senator on Oct. 21. (Clinton’s birthday was on Oct. 26th.)

Rob Reiner sang “Happy Birthday Mrs. President” at the party. Fox News described his rendition as a “variation on Marilyn Monroe’s saccharine ode to President Kennedy in 1962.”

The party was said to have raised $500,000.

Reiner has also made a video for Clinton that bears a mild resemblance to his 1984 “rockumentary,” Spinal Tap.

In the video (which can be accessed on YouTube), Reiner gives young Clinton volunteers tips on reaching voters.

“You need to find your motivation, you need to find the passion,” he tells a woman calling on Clinton’s behalf.

Reiner’s the right person to teach fund-raising tactics. He’s given over $500,000 to Democrats since 1984. And he’s well-known for bringing in the big bucks on behalf of candidates and causes.

“He has a good, sound network of people he’s able to reach,” a Democratic party strategist told The Los Angeles Times.

In part, this is because of Reiner’s roots in show businesses.

He’s the son of Carl Reiner, the comedian, producer and director.

His mother, Estelle, is an actress and a singer. And she’s the woman who uttered the lines, “I’ll have what she’s having,” in the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally, the 1989 movie directed by her son.

Rob Reiner, who was married to the actress/director Penny Marshall, has zero degrees of separation from an “A” list of movie stars.

He’s either director and/or performed with Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Bette Midler, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, to name a few.

Reiner campaigned for Al Gore in 2000 and Howard Dean and John Kerry in 2004. He waited to back Clinton this year until he was sure Gore wasn’t running.

He has helped lead statewide initiatives on children’s issues in California. The successful 1998 Proposition 10 that put a steep tax on cigarettes to help fund preschool education was known as the “Reiner Initiative.”

Reiner and his wife are also the founders of Parents Action for Children, a group devoted to education people about children’s health.

He directed The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, which comes out next month.

Other Hollywood big hitters and Democrats who have endorsed Clinton include the director Steven Spielberg and former basketball star Magic Johnson.

Sen. Barack Obama has Hollywood stars behind him, as well. Oprah Winfrey and actors Matt Damon and George Clooney are among those who have backed the Illinois senator.

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