ABC News' Jonathan Greenberger reports: It's the day the political and entertainment worlds collide, and the crowds have already started gathering in Santa Barbara, Calif.
At 3 pm PT, Oprah Winfrey's widely anticipated fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., kicks off at her $50 million estate in Montecito. The event is expected to raise over $3 million for Obama's presidential campaign and to draw over a thousand guests, including George Clooney, Will Smith, and Stevie Wonder.
First, though, a crowd estimated by the campaign to number nearly 7,000 turned out at Santa Barbara City College to hear Obama give the stump speech he unveiled earlier in the week. Flanked by the Pacific Ocean over one shoulder and the Santa Ynez Mountains over his other, Obama told the crowd that he alone is the "change" candidate they need.
Those assembled under the 70 degree skies hung onto every one of Obama's words. At the end of his speech, after telling Santa Barbara that he was about to "bring it to a close," loud boos and chants of "No!" were heard.
But the biggest event of the day is still to come. And today's Oprah event wonâ€™t be the last big fundraiser of the month for Obama: The New York Times reported yesterday that on Sept. 24, a "Barack on Broadway!" fundraiser hosted by some of Broadway's biggest luminaries will take place at New York's New Amsterdam Theater.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has her own star-studded fundraiser in the offing, hosted by Magic Johnson and scheduled for six days from now.
The spate of big-ticket, high-profile fundraisers comes as the close of the important third quarter of fundraising approaches at the end of this month.