July 19th, 2007
11:42 AM ET
11 years ago

Oprah takes out big guns for Obama

Watch CNN’s Mary Snow report on Oprah’s swanky campaign bash.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Her name has been known to skyrocket a novel to the top of the bestseller list, but can Oprah Winfrey do the same with a presidential candidate?

The popular talk show host, who first said she would support Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid in September on CNN’s Larry King Live, plans to host a $2,300 per-person fundraising event for the Illinois Democrat in her Montecito, California home next September.

In an e-mail sent out Tuesday, the event is being billed "the most exciting Barack Obama event of the year anywhere,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the Times, those celebrities who pledge to raise $25,000 for the senator will be invited to a special VIP reception and a $50,000 pledge will win a dinner with Oprah and the candidate.

Though Winfrey’s highly-anticipated soirée is certain to produce an avalanche of campaign-cash for Obama, it remains to be seen whether her endorsement alone will translate into votes at the polls.

While Oprah began endorsing novels long ago, the TV host has never lent her support behind a presidential candidate until now.

Last May, Oprah told Larry King she chose to support a candidate for the first time this cycle because she knows Obama “personally,” and knows “what he stands for.”

"I think that what he stands for, what he has proven that he can stand for, what he has shown, was worth me going out on a limb for - and I haven't done it in the past because I haven't felt that anybody — I didn't know anybody well enough to be able to say, I believe in this person," Oprah said.

In the same interview, Oprah said her endorsement of Obama does not suggest she is against the other Democratic front-runner for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

"I think I've said this before and it's true, because I am for Barack does not mean I am against Hillary or anybody else. So the fact that I would endorse Barack Obama and the fact that I would support Barack Obama, I have not one negative thing to say about Hillary Clinton,” she said.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. Speak, San Antonio, TX

    Speaking as an African-American(AA), it's long overdue for O to support AAs. Contrary to pop. opinion, there are numberous qualified AAs in diverse disciplines. Since I believe that O caters to white people, I'm surprised that she's supporting Obama. Nevertheless, her support of him (and other people/concepts/things) is not a green light for my support of him. I am because I think.

    July 19, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Tax Payer, USA

    If she's trying to make a black verse white race out of this she's certainly throwing fuel on the fire now. She should also try and remember what country she made her money in and maybe help the poor here too. We'd all be better off with out her racsit political opinions.

    July 19, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Claire, Los Angeles, CA

    What's wrong with Oprah supporting Barack, even if it's only because he's black (although I seriously doubt that's the reason, given her history of non-support of Blacks)? For many centuries the "good ol' boy" network has existed, propelling white candidates, both political- and employment-related, into positions simply because they were white and not necessarily the most qualified. So, now that the tables may be turned, that network balks. The expressed opinions of Oprah supporting Obama due to skin color is merely a matter of the good ol' boys (and girls) being able to dish it out but can't take it. Hmmph!!!

    July 19, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. Trev, Chicago Illinois

    We live in the so-called land of "equality", where every single president from day one has been a white male.

    At this point in time, our country is hated by people all over the world. Our foreign policy is ridiculous and our current "president" is a certified idiot.

    If there was ever a time for a non-traditional presidency the time is NOW!

    GO Barack!!! He has my vote.

    July 19, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Monica Andry, Paoli, IN

    I think America should give Oprah a message that her job is in broadcasting and her opinion should be her vote in a closed voting booth and not asserted on her TV show. America made Oprah, and America can break her also by not watching her show or buying her magazine. Most Americans do not get to mix their political views at work. Why should Oprah? Just because she has more money and appears to get by with it from her sponsers and advertisers doesn't make it any more ethical. She should buy paid time on television outside her showbiz career to support a candidate.
    For the record, I had been receptive to Obama's platform and supportive of his campaign. I even watch the Oprah show occaionally. However, her blantant use of her show to promote her personal beliefs has alienated me.
    I would like to see America take the glitz and glam of Hollywood out of our politics. I urge every American to decide their vote on issues, not a candidates showbiz appeal. Thanks for reading!

    July 19, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Cam, Raleigh, NC

    To those who say Oprah is only supporting Obama because he's Black: Jesse Jackson is Black and she didn't support him. Alan Keyes also Black... she didn't support him. Al Sharpton, Black too.. and she didn't support him either. Give the woman a little credit here. Like her or not, you can't say she would be that much of a dumb sheep to risk her name/reputation just because he's Black.

    July 19, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. Mandy Swartzendruber, Morton, IL

    Does anyone intelligent ever post on this? Oprah is the most powerful woman in the world. She works with poor Americans in kind with poor Africans - which seems a pro po as she is an African American...

    Of course it is important that she backs Obama. And she is right - having seen him speak in person, I felt his sincerity. There is no better candidate.

    Also - Obama is half white. His mom is white so I'm unsure how one could defend the theory that she likes him because he is black. He also went to Harvard, lived all over the world, worked with the poor and has written best sellling books. Read one of them and then share your opinion please.

    July 19, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Alexandria, VA

    Because America is the RICHEST country in the world. She is helping POOR kids in poor countries. There are plenty of other millionaires that can help American children. And in case you haven't noticed, her roots are African.

    July 19, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Will Harrell, Astoria, NY

    Oprah's comments are just that, her own. It's not The Gospel. Hooray for Oprah for expressing her opinion. Y'all need to stop slamming her, take what she's said, do your own research and make your own opinion. She's just getting the ball rolling. Maybe Obama is the ticket...that's for us to decide now. Thanks, Oprah, for giving us something to think about and consider.

    July 19, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Edain, Denver, Colorado

    When I start to read a comment, and it is riddled with errors, I quit reading. FYI.

    My personal opinion (as opposed to "The Truth"): Someone can support one candidate without opposing the other. Clinton and Obama are not exactly polar opposites.

    Also, every candidate has at least some celebrity behind him/her, and at least one candidate always wins.

    Finally, Oprah is extremely influencial among lower, middle and upper class women in America, and that is just a fact. She is someone a lot of people look up to, even if you don't. She's not just XY Celebrity Liberal (whatever Bill-O tells you). Providence, yes, she does help children in Africa, but in doing so she inspires people who witness her deeds in America to be better people. I don't think a good deed can be said to be less good because it isn't the deed you would have done.

    July 19, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. Texas

    If Obama wins the democratic nomination, I will vote for another party – I am voting the issues. There is just something about him I just don't like. He is way too arrogant and too inexperienced! No more learning on the job. As for Oprah, like Kennedy they are too rich and out of touch with middle America. I am Hispanic and I will not vote for Richardson either. Ethnicity will not determine my vote.

    July 19, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Moe, Atlanta GA

    Her roots are starting to show now that she is endorsing a black senator. I hope a black president never gets elected. I don't want to see old lawnmoers and junk cars outside on the white house lawn.

    July 19, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. DC

    Wow, most of you on this board is so negative and hateful. Have we been watching and listening. This is 2007 and our country is in a deep hole because of our so called leader GW. He is killing our kids for his personal profit. It doesn't matter who you vote for, just make sure that you know your candidate no matter what race he/she is. I am a young black woman and there is just too too much hate in this world.

    July 19, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. April T, Tipton Indiana

    Hmmmm – let me see. Oprah endorses Obama because of skin color??? With that same logic, where was her support of Colin Powell? Unfounded arguments!

    So – some of you have a problem with a celebrity endorsing a political candidate – because they should simply be "entertaining" us? But there are no problems with religious leaders doing the same thing and firing up their base for a particular cadidate (Jerry Falwell – HELLO!)

    People that actually take the time to vote, are more than likely the same kind of people who are not going to be persuaded to vote for one candidate based solely on who endorses them. Unless you listen to Jerry Falwell – which is why we have the president we do now. BRAVO!!!

    July 19, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Stephanie, Steubenville Oh

    It sickens me to see comments like âOprah would be one more reason not to vote for Obamaã
    Get informed people!!!! Letting one person shape your political views is disgusting.
    Obama is in my opinion the best candidate and has the integrity and fresh ideas that America needs. He is a genuine person, which is hard to find in D.C. these days.

    July 19, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |


    July 19, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Edmund, St Louis, MO

    It seems as though many people are asking "why now" in regards to Oprah's choice to support Obama in this election. A very common response has been that it is because of his racial identity. I suggest that it is just as likely that the hotbed of issues ranging from the ongoing wars overseas, a national recognition (finally) of the reality of global warming, the ongoing debates on gay marriage and stem cell research, to even the possible resurgence of the universal health care argument are all valid reasons for Oprah to be choosing this election to take a stand. Anyone who follows Oprah must be aware that her views are liberal, and it's thus not surprising that she has opted to support a left of center Democrat during this pivotal election. Maybe she is only supporting him because he's Black. Or, maybe, she feels that in 2008 we finally have the right candidate to end two decades of Clintons and Bushs running the white house. Maybe her personal friendship with Obama has nothing to do with it and she is blinded by racial issues. Or maybe she felt that, in past elections (and we should only be speaking about the last two as the power of an "Oprah endorsement" is a recent phenomena) she was not inspired by the Gores, Edwards, or Kerrys that were offered by the Democratic party – and I ask that readers remember that she did not hold similar fundraisers nor did she cast such support for Al Sharpton. Yes, Oprah is Black. But she is also an educated woman who has decided to test her power in the political arena. I only hope that we as Americans don't allow our own prejudices to force us to dismiss her views because of the color of her skin.

    July 19, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Micki Santa Clarita CA

    Oh my gosh! First of all, Oprah has as much right to endorse and back Obama as anyone. There are tons of celebrities that endorse politicians and people can either accept their viewpoint or not. Same with Oprah. However, to say she is backing Obama because of race is just plain stupid!

    To those of you who are critizing Oprah for building the school in Africa I say this "better to light one candle than curse the darkness". Oprah has lit a whole lot of candles both in this country and elsewhere. Her philanthropy in this country has not been publicized as much but she has donated millions to various causes including helping the Hurrican Katrina victims. Oprah has the courage of her convictions and acts on them. Hooray for Oprah and, please God, give us more people like her!!

    July 19, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Wallace, Chicago, Illinois

    Hey! Persia Rosenberg, Ottawa, Ontario

    This is great. I love it. You said,

    Many of the commentators here are committing logical fallacies. Just because Oprah has supported people (never politicians, however) who are white does _not_ imply that she cannot have an unconscious motivation to support Obama because he is black. They are unrelated points. Similarly, because white people support other white people, and other black people support black people, does not logically prevent Oprah from having an unconscious racial motivation, nor does it imply that they have a racial motivation–we know nothing of those anonymous figures in the demographics; some are well-motivated, some are probably not.

    So give me evidence that says Oprah is endorsing him simple because he is black? No emotion, just logic.

    You, yourself said "we know nothing of those anonymous figures in the demographics". So how can you "divine" that her endorsement is racially motivated? What proof do you have. All of the "evidence" points to the contrary. Her audience is white. Her staff is diverse, but mostly white. She has never endorsed a black or white candidate. Help me understand Persia.

    Come on America! We have to do better. Oh, wait you're from Canada. Wait! You can't even vote in our election.

    July 19, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Christin, Murfreesboro, TN

    I would like to know what is so wrong with supporting someone of your own race? If Barack Obama has great viewpoints and platforms that I believe in and agree with I am going to support him as well. Its obvious that he is a man that is worthy of support for his contributions to this nation past, present, and future. I don't think that a vote or support should be soley based on race however it shouldn't be looked down upon if that is a factor (not deciding factor) in one's decision. If Oprah were a caucasian woman would this even be an issue? I highly doubt it. Lastly, Oprah has not made a decision for me, I'll continue to research the candidates and their views and platforms on issues myself to make a decision. If support from Oprah can way a country to vote for someone then the United States has bigger problems than I imagined.

    July 19, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. Tracey, VA

    Is it so unrealistic to believe that Oprah would possibly support a candidate because she actually believes he would be good for the country and would be a good president? This says a lot about what some think of Oprah as well as Obama. Could we just once leave "race" out of the picture..... Obama is running for president and he just happens to be an african american....

    July 19, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Lizabeth, Dallas TX

    Ask some people on one of the major airlines about the incident some years back where Oprah was flying (yeah, commercial– but first class at least), and she pitched a hissy fit to have a black flight attendant come up to work the first class section for her.

    July 19, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Outraged Political Activist

    For all those who feel racism is dead, and things have been equal for 40 or 150 years now, here is proof that its not. Racism is alive and well. Why else would there be 270+ posts on two powerful African Americans supporting each other? I would appreciate it if you same people would stop writing post about how there is no need for African American programs and other support system of the African American race. Let them help themselves since so many of us in this very blog wont.

    The same reason we are in this war is the same reason Obama wont be president (The average American voter is ignorant and scared). Its too bad because he is an intelligent man who is far more qualified than our business failure of a president who got into yale because his daddy had money. Someone please tell me Bush's political resume which displays his political experience?

    Obama has my vote, and its not because Oprah and or my parents bias political views which were past down from racist generations before me. I actually picked up a book or two and learned for myself.

    Republicans screw the middle class every time they get a chance. Forcing society into haves and have nots. Those who missed history lessons this never ends well for a country.

    July 19, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Helen Botello, Denton, Texas

    I am white, age 67 and a democrat. You darned tootin' I am voting for Obama! First fresh ideas and mind I have heard since JFK. Oprah is a person as well as an entertainer. While I am not a big fan, she certainly has the right and obligation to support her candidate of choice. I am just glad it is Obama! As to those who said she should just stay an entertainer and not get involved, there is a question. If you are a carpenter, should you just stay a carpenter and not work for the candidate of your choice?? Ridiculous logic! Go "Bama" Helen in Texas.

    July 19, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Hillary Minneapolis, MN

    Ghandi said that first they ignore you,then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you WIN. Not only is support important but breaking through resistance is critical in 08. Oprah has not sold out to anyone and proven you can reach the top and be yourself.

    July 19, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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