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. Paul, Pasadena, CA

    Why Oprah supports Barack.

    Barack: Sen from Illinois
    Oprah: TV show based in Chicago, Illinois.

    Saying she suppports Barack because he is black is like saying Ann Coulter supports Bush because he is white...oh, nevermind.

    July 19, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. LA, California

    The reason why Opera went to Africa to build this great school for kidz was because the children would actually apreciate it and learn. Children here don't care about their education, they want what they see on MTV.

    July 19, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. d newport news va

    i think the point that a lot of people have not touched on is that while it is oprah's first endorsement, she comments it is because she knows who he is and what he stands for. i have not seen anyone comment on these posts WHAT THE HELL EITHER STAND FOR OR HAVE PLANNED. its like the iraq war plan...noone can come up with a feasible solution, so mud is slung instead just saying "we could do it better." so maybe a lot of the haters on here remarking about skin color or sex have just been fed up with politics and how everyone in the races just sidesteps the important questions.

    July 19, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. Jennifer Huntington Beach, CA

    I am shocked that the lines of racism are continuing to run so deep in our country in 2007. I am a 26 year old "white" woman and I have never allowed the color of a person’s skin to affect the way I think of them or their opinion. We all bleed the same blood, no matter if we are Asian, White, Black, Spanish and so on. What a shame that it (racism) is all over this board.
    I am all for Obama in 08'. He is a fresh face and a clean slate for our country. He has his heart and mind working in the best direction for US, the American people. He has a clear idea about what we need as American’s to begin to rebuild our country here at home after the terrible reign of the Bush Admin. and how to begin to improve our relations over around the world.
    I support Obama because he IS the best that I have seen or heard in a very long time. He gives us the hope that things can actually get better here. Good Luck Obama...you have my vote.

    July 19, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. Stephanie, Marietta, GA

    In the early 90s, Oprah was accused of being rude or talking down to blacks. Recently, the hip-hop community said that Oprah hates black men. Now, let the small minded folks on this board tell it, she hates whites (non-black)and "poors". Which is it? You cannot have it both ways? The real issue here is that like it or not, Oprah is a powerful WOMAN and a visionary. She is under attack for having the courage to make a difference. As she has earned her money on her own and on her own terms, she is free to spend it, her good will, and her personal support in any manner that she chooses. So if she opts to not have a rapper on her show, that's her perogative. If she opts to build a million schools in Africa and not a single one in the US, that too is her perogative. If she announces that she is supporting Barack based upon her own personal convictions, that TOO is her perogative.

    Likewise, it's your perogative to make your own personal endorsements. Don't hate because you do not have as much power and influence as she does. If you disagree, don't jump online and spew ignorant hate embarassing fellow Americans. Go register for YOUR favoriate candidate. Host a viewing party for a political debate. Volunteer to register voters. DO something for Democracy is not a spectator sport!

    Hating on Oprah and flying your ignorance in all its blazing glory is futile, immature, and ineffective. Love her or hate her, Oprah puts her time, money, and power behind what she beleives in...can you say the same? Have you done anything to improve the plight of the "poors"?

    I bet you have a bumber sticker applauding the troops for fighting for your freedom. Yet you jump at the chance to attack Oprah (or any other celebrity) for exercising hers. That's brilliant.

    July 19, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    It's not Obama that is the problem, but his wife. She can't control her mouth. Did anyone see how she introduced her husband when he won the senate? "Please give it up for my Babies Daddy." Yes, I'm sure the first ladies would love that going on in their house.

    July 19, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Ravi, Orlando, FL

    As an Indian-American I am outraged that our community has not embraced the greatest leader my country has ever known. Those ignorant enough to say Ghandi would be wrong. Mr. Michael Dell is a visionary, a pioneer, a man who knows that outsourcing is not just about cost cutting, but also about the joy american consumers feel when they are greeted on a customer service call by a man named Chip who speaks with a thicker bombay accent that Taj from Van Wilder. Despite these formidable points, our brown leaders have said nothing, done nothing. Why hasn't Deepak Chopra said anything? Where are the Sanjay Gupta's of the world now? How in Vishnu's name has that little bastard Kashif (from America's Got Talent fame) not stepped up? With these words, I implore you to make the call and vote Dell. To the adage, "What can brown do for you" I say "not much, sir, not much at all."

    July 19, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. El Jefe Odessa, Texas

    Not voting for someone because of someone elses endorsement is still making a choice based on what someone is telling you to do. That is like smoking because your mommy told you not too. Not so bright America! Vote on the candidate you feel can do the most good for America and its citizens.

    July 19, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. BERNARD, SCOTCH PLAINS NJ

    Wow, you people are straight up ignorant. No wonder George Bush is our current President, try to have an intelligent conversation ahout an endorsement and you people turn it into a race war...check yourself America!

    July 19, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Jonathan, Herndon, Virginia

    screw Obama, screw Hillary, screw Oprah, Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Edwards, and anyone else for big government. Vote Ron Paul, vote for less taxes, less government, no foreign interventionism, and freer market. Ron Paul is the only logical choice when faced with the other candidates being socialists or authoritarians. (both attributes of hitler and stalin)

    July 19, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Vincent King, Phoenix AZ

    I just read a great number of the 279 posts here. I truly do enjoy when America shows that nasty racist streak that the rest of the world shakes their collective heads at. The ferocity and venom that some of these posts carry is stunning. (Is this the year 2007 or 1807?) For some, that question has been answered. Just as stunning is the irrational rationale behind many statements. But, as dumb as the American electorate can be, I believe as a single populace, our collective political IQ is rising. (This is the case even against the incessant onslaught of propaganda). The small minded, of course, will say Oprah's support of Obama is racially motivated. (but she didn't support Powell. She didn't support Sharpton. She didn't support Jackson. She didn't support Keyes, all African Americans who either ran or considered running). So that basically blows that thought process all to heck. And since generalizations and sweeping indictments seem to be the order of the day, I submit one of my own. (Let's see if you all can take it as well as you dish it). I submit to you that any who vigorously oppose Oprah's support of Obama are THEMSELVES racist (and probably proud of it), And more to the point, they are Republicans. I submit that this would not have been a blip on anyone's radar if she endorsed a black Republican candidate. (or even a white one). Those who write mean-spirited, divisive posts assume they are right. I will assume that I am right, as well. Meanwhile, a bright, thoughtful, energetic entity, who owes little to the establishment has entered the presidential race, and garnered the support of an extremely influential television personality. And they both just happen to be black. God Bless America.

    July 19, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Micah J. Huntsville, AL

    Strangely enough I can bet that none of you non-OBAMA supporters can tell anyone a thing about his views or his life for that matter... You see that HE is black and do not see that this country needs a change, and just maybe if we step outside our boxes we could realize that he has the potential to be a great leader. Has anyone read his book "The Audicity of HOPE"? He makes no bold statements of being a savior but one who champions positive change for all not just blacks. It must hurt that someone who is highly educated, respected and unbiased could actually be the next leader of the free world...and by the way BLACK.....

    July 19, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. Dan, Modesto CA

    "I don't mean to sound racist" is cover for racist statements.

    July 19, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Becky,Euless, Texas

    My learned and well Educated, normal thinking Human Beings, Please refrain from making a fool of yourself, by even suggesting race was Involved here!

    July 19, 2007 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Kris, High Point, NC

    It’s still amazing that in 2007 when everyone swears things are better then they were in the 50’s, 60’ and etc that we still have people who write comments like this.

    So what if Oprah campaigns for Obama based on his color. You’re trying to tell me that all the white presidents we’ve had in office didn’t have the backing of white people just because they were white.

    It’s amazing that when anyone of color does something that the white population has been doing for years it’s suddenly wrong and racist.

    Just because Oprah is backing Obama does not mean you have to vote for him. We’re all adults capable of deciding whom we want to vote for.

    I think it’s time the white population took a step back from their holly then thy attitude.

    July 19, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. Persia Rosenberg

    Wallace of Chicago,
    Thanks for the comment. Of course I can't know that Oprah supports Obama because he is black, but it is a possibility that no-one has successfully ruled it. I, in fact, doubt that is her reason. In the first order, she probably believes he is the best. In the second order, they are both Chicago-ites (like yourself), who know each other quite well on a personal level. Hopefully she is not running on personal bias, as someone of her power also has great responsability. Nevertheless, as you will see in my original post (#8), there is a trend in America towards group-mindedness–that is, the sort of subgrouping that Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought would be the death of democracy (which requires a single, unified 'general will'). I suspect that on an unconscious level, Obama's colour must be a factor, albeit small, for Oprah's sudden desire to support a political candidate in a public manner. I would suspect, similarly, that some whites will, on an unconscious level, not support Obama out of worry of having a black man running the country. By 'unconscious,' I mean that people feel a repulsion that they can't explain, so they justify it with whatever post hoc explanations they can muster.
    (A side-note: Many commentators here have cried, "It's a free country," and indeed it is, but the public support by a person as public as Oprah makes it an issue for public judgment.)

    July 19, 2007 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. Micki Nicol Santa Clarita CA

    Can't believe that someone actually used the words "genius" and "Clinton" in the same sentence - LOL!!

    July 19, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. Allan Toh, Honolulu, Hawaii

    It truly stretches the imagination to say that race DIDN'T factor into Oprah's endorsement. C'mon folks, it's 2007, nobody's stupid anymore, especially with information available at the speed of light from here to Timbuctu. But that's not the point for those of us who point that out in Oprah's decision. It is not racist to point out that Oprah chose Obama because he's black. Why is that racist? It's a fact. That's all we're saying.
    As for the point that she never endorsed any other black candidates before:
    1) They didn't have a snowball's chance in hell (Sharpton, Jesse Jackson)
    2) They were Republicans (Powell, don't believe he was a candidate, but if he had been; Alan Keyes)
    So now she finally decides she can use her fame and fortune to make a statement. Good for her.
    But she would have made a bigger statement and brought this country a long way further if she had endorsed someone not black. Simply because of perception. And perception is everything in politics and behavior, isn't it?

    July 19, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  19. Hakim Rasheed

    The level of ignorance and ridiculousness of some of the commentary is frightening and shows that ,for all of our progress we still have much farther to go as a nation. I happen to love Oprah and love the fact that she is supporting Barack Obama for president. I read his book, and I know for a fact that this is the right person to lead the nation.

    The assertion that she is supporting him because he is an African American is obsurd. She didn't endorse Al Sharpton for the Presidency and he was Black, so why Obama? It has to be more than his skin color. If he does win the Presidency, it will speak volumes of the diversity of our nation and perhaps begin to close the chapter on our racial divide once and for all. Go Obama!!

    For myself, I think

    July 19, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. Original Man, Vancouver, Canada

    Barack is a jewel of authenticity in sea of ignobles. a being that utters sincerity for heart. one who by merely being himself stands so starkly different for the insinceres, the uncomfortables, the callous, the calculating, the uncaring, the script readers. something not beautiful permeates the soul of those who prefer the crooked order and advocate for the electing of its representatives. the cruel and wicked souls gnash their teeths and belch odious utterances to obstruct the ascendance of good.

    in your ignomy, you speak of alleged racial divisions but fail to advance the beauty this candidate (obama) represent...you fail to advance the truth that you and obama are of the same race (the human race), you ignore the fact that your DNA may be more similar to the blackest of the blacks than to some of the whitest of the whites...you are unknowing, hopeless, and a scourge welting on the human family.

    let love reign! let goodness shower upon america and the world. let goodness overwhelm evil, as our war on terror shall hopeful overwhelm the evil of psychopathic souls (bin laden, et al), leaving the mindsets of yesterday no safe haven of ignobility in which to hide...let the realization of ONE HUMAN family usher-in, setting aside the ignorance which asserts to the contrary.

    let their be love! let obama's being shine light into the world by way of america.

    amen!

    July 19, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  21. Shane M. Cambre Laplace, Louisiana

    Sen Obama is the only candidate (in my opinion) that has any respect for us taxpayers. This man is the only candidate that doesn't make me feel as if someone spit in my face.

    July 20, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  22. A. Simone

    Very well said Vincent King of Phoenix, AZ!!

    July 20, 2007 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  23. Vincent L. King, Phoenix, AZ

    Being a citizen of our great country means 'advanced' citizenship. The freedom to speak one's mind without supression, while defending the "right" of another to speak their mind (even as the words they speak make your blood boil). This is democracy. Persia, I applaud you for softening your stance a bit, even though I still refuse to believe race had anything to do AT ALL with Oprah's decison to support Obama. To say "it's because he's black", to say, "well you know they all stick together", to say one-tenth of a fraction of the things that were written here today, literally trivialize the intelligence of a woman who was intelligent enough to become a billionaire in a country where she was set up to fail.(As a DOUBLE minority, please know that her accomplishments are no accident. Neither is the current level of influence that she currently wields) Believe it, or not, there was a time ON THIS CONTINENT, where being black, or being white.... was simply a statement of description. (as simple of a description as tall, short, fat, skinny). This obviously was BEFORE our country was founded, But well over 400 years later, this disgusting stain on the cloth of American history still won't wash clean. 436 years of slavery and 142 years of institutionalized racism and second class citizensip, and here we are. It is clear by some posts, that given the chance to clean the stain or not, some would leave it dirty. (in their small world view, 'the natural way things oughtta be'). But the flipside is extremely ecouraging. Because I also see people of enlightenment and conscience rushing forward to educate on facts and not emotion and fear. Those of enlightenment, and freedom of mind, and awareness of self are positively giddy at the astonishing level of enthusiasm and support this American candidate is receiving. Because we know that anyone who's mind is open (even a little) to simply "LISTEN" to what this man is saying, we know that person is going to come away knowing they have witnessed something special. THAT is what Oprah sees. And she sees it on a level you or I NEVER could. There is a buzz and an excitement around this candidate that every single other candidate is envious of. The American people are tired. Even weary. And are starving for genuine leadership. Some of us believe we have found it. There is aura of confidence, not arrogance; a sense of good, and determined purpose, not of business as usual; and a sense of a balance between a brilliant intellegence and comon sense that you can just visalize being applied to the very serious issues and challenges that confront this nation. Love her, or hate her, Oprah shares these genuine qualities. My guess is,she recognized those same qualities in Mr. Obama. And if fundraising totals is any indication, a great number of American see it too. So, again, to say Oprah supports Obama because they are both black trivializes her intelligence while exposing one's own 'lack' of intelligence.

    July 20, 2007 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  24. Allan Toh, Honolulu, Hawaii

    To say that Oprah endorses Obama because he is the best candidate, and not because he is black, when she has never endorsed one for President before is to expect one to believe that:
    1) Of all the people who've ever run for President since she became a billionaire (circa 1996?), not a single one before match the standard Obama has set or is setting, assuming for the sake of argument, Obama is indeed the "best".
    That's the height of silliness.
    Before we can begin to eradicate the scourge of discrimination and biasedness, we need to confront it. At every level, at every instance. And talk about it honestly. Otherwise, we contribute to the whole damn hypocrisy of it all.
    I'm a liberal democrat and I'm voting for Hillary. Obama is a good man from the true melting pot that America stands for, Hawaii, but at this point in time, we need experienced and genuine leadership, not hype.

    July 20, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Jason, Cheyenne, Wyoming

    I am in favor of what Oprah stands for. I watched the show with Obama and his wife and I for one agree with what he stands for and support both.

    July 21, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
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