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. Allan Toh, Honolulu, Hawaii

    If Obama was white, say, Barry O'bannon, Oprah would have endorsed Hillary.
    Oprah, being Oprah, should endorse someone because of what he/she stands for and will do for our country, not because she shares a lot of things in common with the person. That's what politics have been in this country forever, the majority keep voting for people who are "just like us". It's all personalities when it should be about substance and policies. And personality is an extension of your background and what is background but race? Republicans will just about always vote for people "just like us". We can change that.
    And Oprah could have broken the mold and taken a big, bold step forward for this country. Instead, all she's done is perpetuate the status quo and the perception that it will always be about race till kingdom come, when it comes right down to it. Did we expect otherwise, even from the Big "O"?

    July 18, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Connie, Tn.

    She certainly has good judgement. It is also a testment to her character that she is not bad-mouthing any other candidate. I am sure she will support the Democratic candidate, whomever that may be.

    July 18, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. MB from NYC, NY

    To MaryA. Smith, Myrtle Creek ,Oregon:

    If you voted for Kennedy and are a fan of Obama, please consider voting for the Democratic Party's nominee even if it's not Obama. The least among them would be a better choice than the alternative, unless you are a fan of the Republican style of government we've all endured the last several years.
    In all likelihood, Obama will not win the Democratic nomination. Don't disenfranchise yourself by doing the work of the Republicans for them. Your country needs you. I beg you, please don't allow another President who puts ego before expertise to take up residence in the White House. VOTE!

    July 18, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Bob E. cincinnati, ohio

    First, let me state that I am 10th generation hillbilly from the hills of Ky, to the people that are shocked by the comments on here concerning race/ you have to understand something that the 30% of the country that still backs Bush(an Idiot)do so because they are racists/ thats why they are republicans/ they will tell you they are not but deep down they are/ they believe that he and the people like him help keep America whites in charge/ whats amazing about this is that also call themselves Christians when they don't understand the meaning of it.

    July 18, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Erik, Greensboro, NC

    Making the Race out of Race is the state of America that the media has hoped we would come to for so long, people.

    It makes headlines for them. They thrive for negativity. That's why they NEVEr report on any of the good things we're doing over in Iraq. Put your money on that one.

    July 18, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. Max Disbelief, NYC, NY

    It is just too bad we can’t have Dubya for four more years.

    Posted By Mark Sanson Wichita KS : July 18, 2007 2:32 pm

    Mark... you're kidding, right?

    July 18, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Emilio -- Montreal, Canada

    sometimes i don't understand why " others " like Oprah get involved in politics.. next thing you know she'll be endorsing sports... she should keep out.. if Obama needs help it goes to show you what kind of a canidate he really is...

    July 18, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. GOP, Columbus, Ohio

    Hey, "Max Disbelief, NYC" – Why are you shocked to see that someone likes our President? President Bush won 8 years in office. Open your eyes – we are Middle America – NYC is to the Left with California. Adds up to not enough votes. Sorry, bud! GO RUDY!

    July 18, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Samantha, Birmingham, Ala.

    I'm white and a woman, and I will be voting for Obama in 2008. I don't think it's safe to assume that Oprah is voting for him just because he is black. She is a smart and intelligent woman and probably suppors him for the exact reason she said she does: she knows what he stands for.

    I heard him speak when he came to Birmingham, Ala. and have been a full-fledged supporter ever since. He is what America needs, and that has nothing to do with color.

    July 18, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Frank

    You know, I could never figure out the "Oprah" phenomenon. I'm sure she's a nice lady and all that, but I've never heard her say anything particularly interesting, or insightful. What's the deal with her? Why would anyone vote for a certain person because she does?

    July 18, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Shawn, Mount Pleasant, SC

    I am completely disappointed that Oprah has never supported a presidential candidate until now. It is very reasonable to believe she is endorsing Obama based on race and not just their personal relationship. I guess we all are a little bias when it comes to our own skin color. Oprah, you owe Tommy Hilfiger an apology!

    July 18, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Rich, Tampa, FL

    When you think about it, Oprah is actually one of the biggest racists around. Take a look at her show..take a look at how she spends her money [i.e. the school in Africa]. She is supporting someone who clearly is not yet qualified for the presidency. He will be in the future – but not in 2008. Reason = because he is black. Truly amazing.

    July 18, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Ronald Dreibelbis,Deland Florida

    I believe Oprah has really make a mistake this time.She has always seem to be a reasonable women.She is very popular.But we all mess up sooner or later.She needs to take real good look at his background and where he is from.

    July 18, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Lauren, Sebring, Ohio

    I am not impressed with Oprah's endorsement of Obama. She has several good qualities, but I agree with some of the others, she should be helping the children in the United States. There is plenty of poor right here in her home land, but she gets more publicity if she goes to Africa. Africa has a government and so do all of the other countries we pay to feed. It is survival of the fittest. I hate to see homeless people and read about starving or abused children. I want my tax dollars to go towards helping my neighbor when they need it, not to Africa. I think the way candidates campaign is illegal and unethical. Millions of dollars that could be put to such a better use. I wouldn't support Obama if he was the only candidate.

    July 18, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Stephanie, Washington, D.C.

    Some of the people here are suggesting that the only reason Oprah is supporting Obama is that he's an African-American candidate. Others suggest that if Obama weren't running, Oprah would be supporting Hillary, because she's a woman.

    By this logic, Oprah should have supported Jesse Jackson in his two presidential bids, not to mention Al Sharpton. She did not. I don't recall her supporting Geraldine Ferraro in her vice presidential bid, either.

    Clearly, there is more to Oprah's endorsement than race or gender. What could it be, what could it be...I don't know, the fact that Obama is the Senator of Illinois. Hmmm, Oprah lives in Chicago, and her show is filmed in Chicago. Chicago is in Illinois. Could it possibly be that Oprah actually does know Barack Obama? That she actually has first-hand knowledge of his leadership abilities? No, that couldn't be, that's too simple. Must be that he's black. Come on people.

    July 18, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Olu, Atlanta, Georgia

    DOn't think Oprah should have endorsed Obama. Her endorsemnet suggests that she is behind Obama because he is black, especially as she says she has nothing against Hilary.
    This time i think Oprah has backed the wrong horse. At least we know now that she is not a Republican.
    Hilary is the next US president

    July 18, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Judith, Atlanta, GA

    You know, it sickens me that small-minded people would think or assume that Oprah would support Obama because he's black! I am an African female, and I know that in the end, I will either vote for Hillary or Obama; depending on their take on certain issues and my continued research. I don't see where the other candidates are coming from or going. Both Oprah and Obama are very smart, intellgent people. Let's stop hating because of who they are and put on our thinking caps.

    For those who hate or dislike Oprah because of what she is doing with her money in Africa...you can go where the sun does not shine. Who the heck tells you how or where to spend your money? There are lots of other millionaires out there; get them to spend their money on the American poor. If Oprah chooses to spend her money in South Africa, that is her perogative. Deal with it!

    July 18, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Michael, Rossville GA

    Obama won't win, because even if he is the best candidate, not enough people will vote for him nor Hillary.
    I see from many of the previous posts that there are some REALLY ignorant people posting. It's that reason alone that we probably will never get solutions to our problems as a nation instead of always sticking a band-aid on a gushing wound.

    July 18, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Lorraine, Memphis, TN

    I'm sure if we could look behind the laptop most of these comments are coming from only a few people and most of them are Clinton supporters.

    These comments make the people making them sound unstable.

    Oprah is an American icon. The people on this blog do NOT represent those millions of voters who aren't political junkies and will make a decision on the Presidential pick on their own.

    July 18, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Capshaw, Raleigh, NC

    It's sad to know that the Presidency of the United States can and will be bought once again! There's something wrong with benefits costing thousands of dollars. When does the "other America" get to express their opinions – Is Oprah inviting any one to the event who cannot "pay up"? Are other Americans of no value to her? Seems like she's forgotten where she came from.

    July 18, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Eric, Philadelphia, PA

    Oprah's involvment in the Obama campaign disgusts me. The Obama campaign provides another high profile arena for Oprah to advertise herself. Oprah is an opportunist, using her high profile philanthropic measures to merely further her own name.

    July 18, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Lauren, Sebring, Ohio

    Hey RI, I agree with you. So many Americans have gotten side tracked with politics they have lost sight of what this country is SUPPOSED to stand for. It is always about publicity or the money not the good of all men. We have to be aware of what type of society we live amungst.

    July 18, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. bob booey Chicago, IL

    Let the celebrities back a candidate again, and watch them lose. When a celebrity backs a candidate it is a reason not to vote for them because the only thing they are good at is being fake.

    July 18, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Antonio, Landing, NJ

    If Oprah helps Obama become president, she will have clout with his administration. This may not be a bad thing. She has the pulse of millions of Americans and reacts accordingly, as when James Frey got caught... exaggerating, she took him to task on national television. If Americans become disenchanted with Obama, Oprah will act on it, attempt to change his policies, and increase her ratings exponentially. Yeah, she's a smart one.

    July 18, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Lauren Sebring, Ohio

    Heuy Judith in GA, I do support the homeless and donate to charities. Im a single mother and take care of more that what you can even fathom. I don't frankly care what Oprah does with her money and frankly I don't care what you think. You are as small minded and off track as the others who think it is OK for her make billions of dollars and then build a school in Africa and get the tax right off. Character and reputation is everything. The only Oprah has done is hurt her creditability. Frankly, the only credit I give her is being able to read.

    July 18, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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