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. Jaime, NY

    Prvidence, RI, I see you are not found of minorities and I have to respect that. I wonder what this world we be like if we have people think like you. Get a life

    July 18, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. mike, brooklyn ny

    for all of the people saying oprah is supporting obama because he's black you must also remember that oprah is in chicago and obama is an illinois senator. this proximity may have helped lead them to a closer relationship than she has had with other candidates.

    Support Mike Gravel.

    July 18, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Stephanie, Washington, D.C.

    I forgot to add to my post above that I hope it was clear from the sarcasm, but just in case – I was mocking those who think the only reasonable explanation for Oprah's endorsement of Obama is race.

    For perspective, I am an Asian-American, I support Obama, and I also have nothing bad to say about Hillary. In fact, she is, and always has been, one of my heroes. Analyze that!

    July 18, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Becky, Euless, TX

    Give me a break, Race has nothing to do with anything here, Just because she is Oprah doesn't mean she is not an American, she has a right to choose whoever she wants, Personally am voting for Obama because he can relate to my class, he is very realistic, his values and Principles are for normal working class people, About her building a school in Africa, The Children here want to by Air force one shoes, very few really want to do anything interesting with their lives, but in Africa.. if you watched the special, they just want School Uniforms to go to school,here they are on Anti depressants because someone at school comes from a richer family, has a better car, and again she has a right to choose, what she wants to do with her money, The freedom that Most American Enjoy! FYI,

    July 18, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    I have no beef with either of these two as I think Oprah is a good person and I applaud her for making something of her life instead of making excuses, she is a self made women, capitalism at it's best.

    Obama got good grades, worked his tail off and has achieved, by once again, not making excuses, but hard work.

    I also don't care who endorses whom as I can gauge my support for a candidate without a celebrities help and if you vote for someone just based on what Oprah thinks, your a moron.

    We would not even be having this level of angry discussion, but let's face it, it comes up because the candidates pander to certain groups and certain groups are given their own debate "format" just look at the NAACP debate to discuss "Black issues".

    Last time I checked, I cared about the same stuff, jobs, health care, our troops, schools etc, etc.

    People ae getting tired of politicians pandering to a select group, pander to one group only, AMERICANS, not hyphenated (insert name) AMERICANS.

    July 18, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    First of all you have no clue Becky. You don't know what kids want. I'll agree that most inner city kids want shoes, but don't speak badly about them. They are future and the ones that will pay your social security. So what if they are depressed becuase their parents don't have nice cars. It's all materialism and destroys the environment anyhow. Don't be too capitalistic with your thoughts. Didn't you say Obama is from your class of people?

    Anyhow, I was wrong when I said Hiliary wasn't a member of the CFR. In fact she is a member of the Illumiati, so she might have a chance against Edwards.

    July 18, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Ruth San Antonio, Texas

    Oprah has done more for humanity than any one I can think of in this day and age. So what if she helps Africa, those poor people need help. Shes one of the few awesome people who will do it. I see alot of ungratefuls responding to this ticker. Thats basically what is wrong with America A LOT OF UNGRATEFUL JERKS. You'd have to live in Africa and starve before you would have even an ounce of gratitude. As far as Oprah endorsing Obama because he's black thats nonsense. Have you ever seen the color of her staff that work for her? Theres black, white, red and more. Oprah is endorsing Obama because hes the best in her eyes out of the few that are running. Stop starting stuff and shut up!!!

    July 18, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. Yvonne barbados

    Oprah endorsed Dr.Phil...I am happy Obama mother is not around to heard all of this,PP I couldn't have said it better in respond to the person from Rhode Island,No Oprah is not the only one to take side in politics, MaryA. it time we get an easy race becase of Oprah,
    Aisha(los Angelis) good for you we never had an Africian americans in the presidency–its about time we have one. W Oprah doesn't need any one to bow down and give her gifts, she is not GOD I don't think his white supporters will alientate him because Oprah is endorsing him, Oprah sweetheart I love and I pray God will continue to bless and protect you,,,and Obama I pray that you will be the next President of American, and to President Bush I love you God bless and keep you always...and it will be always about race until Jesus come again.

    July 18, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. Kevin, New York, NY

    I gotta laugh at all the hate toward Oprah in some of these comments. Here's a self-made billionaire who is actually making a difference despite all odds being against her. You ask, "Why isn't she helping Americans?" I ask, what exactly are you doing besides wallowing in jealousy? It's okay to disagree with her, but why all the hate.

    You detest Oprah's support for Obama, but have no problem with other candidates who are supported by Big Oil and Big Pharma - both of whom have screwed all of us more than Oprah ever could. Some of you people really need to wake up. Grow up and stop looking for a superhero. Instead of standing on the sidelines poking holes, fill in the gaps where you see them.

    July 18, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. Maria, SF CA

    Some of these comments are so racist that I am embarrassed to be a citizen of a country that breeds such ignorant people! It would be nice if we actually elect the most intelligent candidate this time, that's why I'm voting for Obama.

    The fool from Providence who complains about Oprah not giving to "Americans poors" probably voted for Bush, under who's watch poverty levels have risen astronomically. Maybe Limbaugh has convinced you that Hollywood is responsible for all the problems in this country but why don't you take a good hard look at who you folks are voting for and decide if they really care about the "poors" at all or just their pals in the oil industry.

    July 18, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Vidal, Memphis, TN

    It is sad to read such negative but honest opinions about a person and whom they choose to endorse in an election. I said honest because a lot of people are speaking what they really feel; not that I agree with anything that they have stated. I am an African American, I state my opinions in life based on 'fairness' ONLY and not because of anything more nor anything less.

    In other words I wouldn't criticize anyone based on their race nor beliefs unless those beliefs were not fair and beneficial to the well being of us all. If I felt Hillary and/or any other candidate Republican or Democrat was 100% for the good of the American people and for the good of our country as a whole I would cast my vote for them without hesitation; nevertheless I am still undecided on which candidate that will get my vote, but I will say that I AM voting for the Democratic Party. That decision is based solely on what examples the Republican party has set before 'The People' over the past years. I repeat, I will not vote according to skin color but the ability to move this country foward in a positive manner and to repair our damaged reputation. If it be Hillary, Obama or a green martian from outter space as long as they whole heartedly represent the voice of the AMERICAN PEOPLE and is determined to lead us forward in progression instead of 'regret-ion' I will strongly support that candidate.

    I think we should stop allowing race, hatred and ignorance to play a part in our everyday lives and destroy the hearts and minds of our future and really commit ourselves to making this world a better place to live. Because when the day of judgement comes and we are before our creator... then will we finally realize that regardless of our worldly status we were no better than the next person no matter how much we thought we were.

    I think we could be better off if we concentrated more on indiviuality (self) versus trying to run or ruin someone else's life or business for the sake of being EVIL.

    Think before you hate and if you so choose to hate make sure you are fair in doing so... hate yourself first!

    July 18, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Teri

    After what the Bush administration has put this country through, I cant believe anyone would say Obama is not qualified

    July 18, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. X.O. from DC

    First, a correction. Oprah is not a multimillionaire, she’s a billionaire. Second, Oprah can spend her dough however she wants. If she wants to give to poor Africans, so be it. There is a huge difference between poor Africans and poor Americans. In most third world nation there’s no such thing as welfare or free government assistance. If a poor African had the means available to a poor American, he’d think he was rich. Incidentally, she does also give to poor Americans, she just doesn’t brag about it. Third, to all you hung up on race, have you considered that Oprah may be supporting Obama because (1) he’s the current senator from her state, (2) prior to being a US senator, he was in the her state legislature for seven years, and (3) they go to the same church. She’s never endorsed anyone before because she’s never had that kind of relationship with any politician before. And for the record, I don’t particularly care for Oprah but you ignorant people, I like even less.

    July 18, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. Barb, San Jose CA

    Oprah is the reason I wouldn't vote for someone.
    She's a thorn in the side of all women. (except the dumb ones)

    July 18, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. David San Jsoe, CA

    I believe that eventually Hillary will recieve the democratic nomination and she will choose Barak Obama as her running mate (or possibly vice versa). Oprah's endorsement could motivate many black voters to actually vote this time around. Any one that speaks out against her endorsement is simply fearful of the results. Oprah has the right to say and do as she feels just like the rest of us. That is freedom.
    Whether you agree with her endorsement or not...GO OUT AND VOTE

    July 18, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. John Wojdyla Lake Placid, Florida

    You just hit a grand slam, Oprah! Barack Obama rocks.

    We need big changes in Washington. He's the one who can get the job done.

    I hope more influential people like you will step up and be counted as well.

    We need a leader who represents those who elected him. We don't have that now.

    Thank You

    July 18, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. M S Wichita KS

    Tom W in Dedham Mass I applaud you. You my friend hit the nail right on the head. Out of all the back & forth, white & Black, Liberal & Conservative and other comments raised yours says it best. If you dont read any other comments make sure and find this one. GREAT JOB

    July 18, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Richard Orlando, FL

    This is no new news. Oprah said she was supporting Obama months ago. As an American, she is entitled to support whomever she chooses. She has done wonderful things for humanity, and who cares if it was in another country. She exemplifies the true spirit of human decency IMO. If she has the ability to motivate people in a positive way, more power to her.

    It has nothing to do with race, or gender for that matter. I also believe Obama is the best choice based on his policies for America. I hope many posters here will catch up with the 21st Century soon and realize we live in a diverse country with many ethnicities. Instead of focusing on the shallowness of skin color, we should be focusing more on each person’s character.

    July 18, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Joe, Femont Ca

    Obama has no experience at all. Oprah is only doing this because he is black.

    July 18, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. Joshua, Elk Grove Village, IL

    I have one question...if Barak were white and stood for the SAME principles that he stands for, would Oprah still do this?

    July 18, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Tony, Medford, OR

    I couldn't care less who Oprah is endorsing. She can do what she wants with her money. Obama is a nice guy, well spoken, educated and a decent man however, he will not get my vote just because Oprah endorses him. She has every right to support who she wants but we all know Hillary is going to be the next President.

    July 18, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Becky,Euless, Texas

    Anon: I volunteer all the time at Various school districts in the DFW area, One question I always ask the kids is what they want to do with theirl lives, the answers are absurd, some kids are very smart, but overall my point is, Oprah to have done what he did in South Africa, those Kids really deserve it! here we are raising mostly children that are out of control. And no I hope not to get on Social Security, Planning really hard for a decent retirement, but I know those Girls will make a Difference not just in Africa but in the world.

    July 18, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. Lisa Duluth, MN

    With such a strong, smart, compassionate woman as Oprah supporting this candidate gives me one more reason TO vote for Obama!! I think this will be VERY influential for American voters.

    July 18, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. arizona

    I beleive i heard in the past that Oprah said she was a a republican ?
    Now she's a democrat.

    July 18, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. ETC, San Jose, Ca.

    I don't think most American's pay any attention who endorses who. Oprah or any one else does not really matter that much. I become educated about candidates and make my OWN decision. Besides this is just a BIG,EXPENSIVE PARTY FOR MONEY, most people could not even afford to attend. That in itself says alot about OBAMA and OPRAH.

    July 18, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
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