As President Trump heads to Los Angeles for a glitzy fundraiser next week, he can expect a revved-up reception from Hollywood conservatives who feel emboldened by the findings that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russia.
The last two years have been hard for right-leaning industry players, who for years have had to downplay their political views in ultra-liberal Hollywood. Some see Trump’s return to California next week as a sort of validation.
“I think he’s going to have a more enthusiastic reception because there is great relief that there was no collusion or criminal content found,” singer and longtime conservative Pat Boone told TheWrap.
Boone, who in 2016 recorded robocalls for Trump’s campaign, said conservatives in Hollywood are “less reluctant to speak out” now that the special counsel’s investigation has concluded.
“It’s a game-changer,” said Roger Neal, founder of Hollywood public relations firm NPR and avid Trump supporter. “People who were reluctant before will support him more financially now. People who may have had doubts about him will come out more forcefully.”
The April 5 fundraiser will come just two weeks after Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report. Attorney General William Barr’s summary said there was no evidence of coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Michael Ramirez, a self-described “constitutional conservative” and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, told TheWrap the report has allowed Trump’s Hollywood supporters to come out of their shells.
“Trump’s impulsive actions in the 24-hour news cycle makes it hard to take a stand,” he said. “I think for the fervent Trump supporters, the Always Trumpers, it has reinvigorated them and made them feel that their support was justified in many ways.”
Ramirez said he recently gave a speech to a group of Republicans in L.A. and said they were “overwhelmingly gratified at the result of the Mueller report.”
“They feel vindicated and energized,” he added.
For years, many Hollywood conservatives met under the auspices of a secretive group called Friends of Abe, a support network that served as a safe haven for right-leaning members working in the industry. As the group increased in membership and influence, some felt more comfortable going public.
In April 2016, just before Trump clinched the Republican nomination, the group of about 2,500 members suddenly disbanded, saying their mission had been a success.
But some may have grown tired of trying to withstand Hollywood’s widespread disdain of Trump and his policies.
“There are many divisions within the Republican party about this presidency,” Ramirez said. “But it’s much more tenuous for Hollywood conservatives. Their political opinions can put their jobs in jeopardy.”