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. Tim, San Diego, CA

    If any of you were savvy enough to know, Oprah has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to America's disadvantaged citizens through her Angel Network. Also, unlike America where we have public education and the freedom to it, a large majority of the girls that attend Oprah's school would never have the chance to do so. In addition, she's not a multi-millionaire, she's a multi-billionaire who is contributes a lot in philanthropic donations.

    The support of a candidate based on skin color is irrelevant. Do you suggest we continue supporting middle-aged white men who has nothing but damaged over country? Why not a fresh voice, look and perspective?

    July 18, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. J Huntington, WV

    I am sick of hearing what Oprah thinks!
    I was never voting for Obama, but now it isn't even a consideration!!!

    July 18, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Aisha Los Angeles CA

    To all the ignorant commentators on this board, Oprah has the right just like every other American to vote and support whom she wants to vote for and support. She is not asking anybody to jump on her bandwagaon and vote for Obama, she is simply stating who her choice of candidate is, when Colin Powell was thinking of running I did not see Oprah on his bandwagon, so race has nothing to do with it. Oprah helps out a lot of disadvantaged people, from America and Africa, that is her heritage dammit and she can help who the hell she wants to help, its her money and she earned it, just like you choose to do whatever you choose to do with your money. Poor Americans have a whole lot more resources than poor Africans. If Oprah was white and supported a white candidate there would not even be a topic about race. Pure ignorance!!!!

    July 18, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. TN

    I believe this is one area that Oprah is not going to be able to manipulate. There's quite a difference in a book-of-the-month club and a president's 48-months. It's good to know that the majority of Americans do think for themselves instead of allowing another person to make such an important decision for them.

    July 18, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Wendy M, Phoenix, AZ

    Go Obama! Regardless of who is supporting him. Read Audacity of Hope... it's helpful.

    July 18, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Tammy, Jacksonville, Fl

    You are missing the point...it isn't the race card but Obama is from Chicago, Il; Oprah's backyard and he was a local politican before becoming a Senator. The thought that someone would vote based on skin color is sophmoric. One votes for the issues that matters the most to them; I am African American woman but if Condelezza Rice, Clearance Thomas and Colin Powell ran for office I wouldn't vote for them due to their politics.

    July 18, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. CBM, San Diego,CA

    After having Bush elected and then re-elected I can't believe people are still talking about Obama not being qualified. He is an articulate, very professional candidate. Interpret his lack of experience as lack of corruption.

    July 18, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Mark Sanson Wichita KS

    I agree Opra's endoresment is just one more reason NOT to vote for Obama, and Hillary for that matter. It is just too bad we can't have Dubya for four more years.

    July 18, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Saphhire

    This is such a sad day. I have only ever noticed wealthy white men in the White House. I feel that if Oprah wants to endorse Obama, this is her right as an American Citizen. Why all the concern. White America is so afraid of a Black man actually reaching the White House. I feel that he can't do any worse than pass Presidents.

    July 18, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. James - Phoenix, Arizona

    Oprah has said, on more than one occasion, that the reason she doesn't help poor Americans is because we have a government that is capable of helping our own, and yet it chooses not to. Many governments in Africa are not able to run themselves -much less help their own. THATS where she decided to step in. She's helping the Human Family. We are all SO self focused in this country that many of us think the problems of the world should take care of themselves. WRONG. If we're going to Police the world as the current administration has us doing, then we have to nurture the world as well and THAT is what Oprah is doing.

    As far as Obama is concerned. He is the first candidate in decades that has been a complete package. Dynamic, compassionate, smart, well spoken and a quiet sense of power that this country is calling for. We're tired of the Texas Cowpoke machismo..and to that end, Obama is exactly what this country needs.

    Oprahs endorsement will certainly not harm him at all.

    July 18, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. Lawrence, Valencia, CA

    "There are millions of Americans poors, like Africans poors, do not have food on their plates. There are millions of Americans who cannot buy milk to feed their children. There are millions of Americans die due to lack of health insurance. I do NOT have any respect for Oprah at all" By Providence, RI

    I don't mean to insult the person who wrote in from Providence, RI, but I hope you are a recent immigrant, as I cannot imagine why else your writing skills would be so atrocious.

    Also, please do some research before making such ridiculous statements. Although there are millions of Americans living in poverty, there are many, many more Africans living in more extreme poverty. Unlike Americans, most of those Africans do not have access to medicaid/welfare/WIC/food stamps, etc. Therefore any assistance Africans can get from an individual who controls what is done with their money, instead of handing it over to corrupt regimes, is a wonderful thing. Millions of Americans do not die due to lack of health insurance, a few thousand maybe(still unacceptable), but not millions.

    I have traveled all over the world and from my experience, I would have to say that our poor are the fattest poor people in the world. Although they may be hungry at times, I have yet to see any group of people in US die of starvation.

    As far as Oprah helping out Americans? She probably was one of the most generous INDIVIDUALS in this country at the time of the Katrina catastrophe. Did you donate millions of your own money or get other wealthy friends of yours to donate their time and money as well? I don't think so. Before you criticize Oprah, please put things into perspective. O.K.?

    July 18, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Mrs. America

    Maybe Oprah's endorsement (or whatever you want to call it) isn't such a favor to Obama. She tends to be a little lopsided in favor of people of color, and Obama is trying to sell himself to the public as the best presidential candidate, intentionally downplaying color. He knows that at least for now he can't depend on the African-American community to get him elected because Sen. Clinton is still ahead of him there. Oprah and her extravaganza (which I doubt will sit well with the people hoping nothing unexpected comes up so that their paycheck will last until the next payday) may be unwittingly setting him back.

    July 18, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Melissa, SC

    Oprah for President!

    July 18, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Eric Oliver, Monterey, CA

    I am most concerned by the fact America has become a Plutocracy rather than a Democracy.

    July 18, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Mark L., Laurel, Md.

    Of course Oprah can make a difference. she unfortunately had candidate Dubya on her show prior to the 2000 election - which somehow humanized him and helped him beat Gore (albeit with shady hanging chads in Florida). At least this time, Oprah is using her powers for good and not evil!

    July 18, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Dear God,

    Please smite us Americans for being stupid.

    A lot of these comments just go to show how uneducated some Americans still are. Go to school please. Then you will decide to vote democrat like the rest of the smart folk.

    THANKS!

    If you were truly educated as you claim, you'd stop voting for the two party system and embrace something that would actually serve all Americans. Besides everyone knows college has essentially become a leftist leaning brainwashing factory. Oh, and for the record, I happen to attend one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, but I refuse to vote Democrat, guess I'm uneducated right? Or could it be that those of us who have actual intelligence think for ourselves, and not let our proffesors think for us.

    July 18, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Mindy Chatsworth, California

    Oprah Winfrey is a citizen of this country and if she chooses to endorse someone for president, that is her right. She is not telling people that they have to vote for him, she is merely stating her personal reasons for giving him her support. What in the world is wrong with that?

    I certainly do not think that this has anything to do with race and I am sick and tired of people playing the race card when it is inappropriate. Obama is a worthy candidate for president. He possesses a brilliant mind, fresh ideas, a message of hope and commitment and an engaging personality and manner.

    I do happen to think that he could use a few more years of experience to expand his resume, however, I do not take issue with his decision to seize the moment and capitalize on his high profile. Some of us would like to once again be inspired by a presidential candidate, as I was by John F. Kennedy. I think he deserves serious consideration and an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey need not diminish this man in any way.

    July 18, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. V J, Los Angeles, CA

    I've seen the interview. Of all the presidential candidates so far, she thinks Obama is the best fit, huh and incidentally he is black. Oprah should stop playing God.

    July 18, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Yancy, Gaitherburg, MD

    Obama seems like a decent candidate and I don't mean any disrespect by saying this, but it makes me woder if other African Americans like Oprah even agree with what he stands for, or do they just want another African American in the presidency so bad they don't care. Something to think about???

    July 18, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. John, Lubbock, Texas

    Let's have a logic check. If I, a white Texan, vote for George W., is it because I am white and Texan? Well, maybe, but then again, maybe it would have something to do with the issues.

    Those of you who think that Oprah would only support a black candidate (who is, by the way, exactly half black and half WHITE), are revealing your own prejudices. Because when you look at Oprah and Obama, what do you see? You see, first and foremost, SKIN COLOR–then lump them together. There is so much more in common that Oprah and Obama have in common than skin color. Get past it–look at the issues. That's what it's all about.

    July 18, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Mark Sanson you must be a darn fool, you can have dubya for 4 more years but America does not want him!

    July 18, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. Lou, Mississippi

    Oprah seal of approval is on Senator Obama. Regardless of the evilness on this blog, Ms. O speaks for alot of women, Native American, Jewish, White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. They listen to her words, they TRUST her.

    This fundraiser is happening at the beginning of the real race for the White House. Everyone will be talking about. Nice public relations move, Obama campaign.

    PS...Oprah and Obama suffering from the same "so-called" problem, they aren't black enough. Which has to be the stupid statement I have heard since, "we the jury in the entitled statement, find Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty."

    Those who are bashing Oprah are just jealous that she didn't pick there candidate to support.

    July 18, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. Lou, Mississippi

    John of Lubbock, Texas,

    Thank you!

    What is wrong with people these days. We are in the 21st Century. Reading a "few" of these comments, it just tells me someone people are just mean-spirited and have no Earthly idea how to treat their fellow man and woman.

    July 18, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    When did supporting a candidate fall into the category of playing God. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, you should be ashamed to even write ignorant comment. Dang some people are plain idiots!

    July 18, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. David Yorktown, Va

    Does race have anything to do with this? Maybe, maybe not. I don't hear about Oprah building schools in Kosovo or some other Eastern European location. Maybe it is society's fault, but why isn't Obama's white ethnicity as big a focus as his AA heritage? I couldn't care less what a candidate's ethnicity or sex is so long as I beleive they are going to represent the people of the United States well throughout the world. I'm tired of the "ugly American" stereotype throughout the world, particularly after we answered the world's call the whole 20th century, but I am also tired of people supporting candidates based on race or sex. Vote with the facts.

    July 18, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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