Oprah and Obama campaign in New Hampshire. Photo: Mike Roselli/CNN
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) – Tired and hoarse after a three-state campaign swing on behalf of presidential contender Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey rounded out the weekend Sunday with an evening appearance here in the Granite State.
"This is my first time in Manchester. Wow, what a beautiful place!" said the talk show host, her voice cracking. Her entrance unleashed deafening screams and frantic waves from many in the audience, along with a sustained standing ovation.
The campaign estimated a crowd of roughly 8,500 braved the chilly New Hampshire weather – roughly a third the size of the audience that attended a similar event held in South Carolina earlier in the day. Still, it was the state’s largest political rally this year.
Hillary Clinton has long dominated the Democratic presidential field here, but a Mason-Dixon poll released just hours before Oprah arrived showed the New York senator’s edge over Obama had narrowed to a statistically insignificant 3-point margin.
Obama’s surge here has been partially fueled by increased support from women voters – precisely the audience the campaign was hoping to reach with Winfrey’s appearance. Some had waited for as long as three hours in the cold before doors opened at 6 p.m.
"I have done my homework, because I wouldn't be standing out here for
somebody I didn't know who I was talking about,” said Winfrey. “I'm not going to step out here and take this risk for somebody who's going to disappoint me later on.”
Their vote, she told the cheering crowd, would bring "Martin Luther King's dream into reality."
Speaking after Winfrey, Obama also referenced the slain civil rights leader. “I am running because of what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now,” he said.
–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla