BEVERLY HILLS ( — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday made her first in a series of appearances in Southern California scheduled through next week.

Amid speculation she’s testing her fundraising power with Hollywood’s elite, the potential 2016 presidential candidate headlined a lunchtime benefit for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe hosted by media giant Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl.

City News Service reports tickets for the luncheon cost $15,000 a person or $25,000 for a couple, according to the website, which tracks political fundraisers across the country.

Clinton later headlined a star-studded benefit at the Beverly Wilshire hotel for Oceana, an environmental group supported by guests Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Morgan Freeman and Jane Fonda.

CBS2’s Dave Bryan reports Clinton, who has yet to declare her intention to run for office, raised further speculation while addressing McAuliffe’s supporters during the first of her appearances.

“There are times when none of us can sit on the sidelines,” Clinton said.

Hundreds of local supporters are expected to attend the Exchange in downtown L.A. hosted by the Ready for Hillary political action committee.

The group, which is urging Clinton to make another White House bid, reportedly has amassed more than 20,000 donors to support a potential Clinton campaign.

Clinton is also scheduled to speak at a Nov. 8 gala for the International Medical Corps at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Tickets at the event, hosted by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, are expected to cost as much as $100,000.

On Nov. 9, she will be honored at USC by the Mexican American Leadership Initiative, a group committed to improving relations between the United States and Mexico.

The Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, Frank Gilliam, told CBS2 that Clinton appears to be testing the strength of her fundraising ties with Hollywood’s heavyweights during her stay.

“She’s really coming to continue to build and develop a relationship with Los Angeles money, Hollywood money in particular, and she’s testing the waters,” Gilliam told Bryan.

“She would need a lot of money if she were to run, because the other side will amass a large war chest.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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