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. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Several month ago, annoucer asked walkers in the street about next President, one man said even Oprah will be a better President than Bush. I think Oprah has confidence to be Obama's running mate, that's why she support him with big money and she think she is greater than others so she can change people's mind to vote Obama, but it is an huge illusion of Oprah. I think her action is just like Elizabeth Edwards, even Oprah donate all of her money to Obama, Obama is Obama, he is Raw Material for the President. Her movement doesn't impact at all. We shouldn't vote our President because neighbors, same church members, read his book, know him or same color. We should elect our President by the QUALIFICATION. Obama is too young and inexperienc material. Americans will not allow that College freshman take Dean's position, child manage the household, new employee runs the company, trainee take over Commander's duty, it doesn't fit. We shouldn't make another mistake like Bush, Obama will have VP like Dick because he needs help. Please wake up and vote the real and strong leader for our Country, United States of America.

    July 18, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. Tim St.Petersburg Florida

    Oprah supports Obama but see's nohing wrong with Hillary. Maybe she will be serving waffles at her fundraising dinner..

    July 19, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  3. New Jersey

    Person from Providence, RI: I definately do not agree with what you say because first of all if you were that of a dedicated American you would propose or even support programs that help such Americans and in your comment I did not read a word of that committment. Second of all, Americans deserve no better! We are one of the richest countries in the world and you say celebrities should fund programs to help Americans!? – You are insane. This displays your conceited and selfish personality. So I would say take your materialistic self and stop embarassing this counrty! Oprah is a good women and Obama would make a fine president in solving our country's problems. It's people like you that give people a reason to hate Americans!

    July 19, 2007 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  4. David Yorktown, Va

    I have noticed that when a newsworthy event has some sort of conservative (extreme or otherwise) connotations with questionable racial connections, the news media and those that consider themselves left of center jump all over the issue shouting "Race!" When right of center individuals suggest the same thing, people on the left (as seen in this blog) say race is not an issue. The truth lies somewhere in between. Race is an issue her whether people like it or not. People act like the US is the only nation in the world that has this problem. Get real we are not that unique. The Japanese are not overly fond of immigrants (like Koreans whose families were relocated in the early 20th century) and Europe is on the verge of major racial backlashes as the Muslim population grows at an alrming rate.
    People vote for what they are comfortable with, so why wouldn't Oprah vote for a man she's comfortable with, he is a black American so she can relate on some level. To be fair, he has been on her show several times. But was this part of the overall agenda? The typical white male relates to a white male more than another white male, voting aside. He still may vote for Hillary. Just don't say race isn't an issue. BTW, I'm a moderate who is leaning towards Hillary, so save your banter against conservatism.

    July 19, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  5. erika morgan black dimond wa

    I am a white health care worker, and I see this whole race card this way. I once was working on a procedure with a very demented old man who was fighting me physically and verbally. The nurse's aid who came to help me was a Nigerian, very black. Our patient certainly painted the room purple with racial slurs and epitaphs of the most awful sort. I thanked the nurse when it was over, and explained that this guy had worried his whole life that when he was old and feeble a black man would hold him down against his will; and indeed it had happened. This race card is defensive behavior and shows the most inhumane side of us, we need to internalize that people are all human brothers and deserve only our best love and then we'll be finally demonstrating our humanity to the world as intended.

    July 19, 2007 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  6. Prof Ramesh Manghirmalani

    I want them to make a commitment to Northern California before I make a commitment to them.

    July 19, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  7. The Ghost writer, Ithaca, NY

    Oprah! you are an individual that has shape this country like Obama, no matter how much negative energy is out there, trying to do the wrong thing; with your love of humanity, which is one of your greatest asset it is your love and spirituality that brings you above all the rest, and the negativity from the least is below zero.

    July 19, 2007 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  8. Mary, Westmont, IL

    I know there is a lot of hype about Obama. So many people think..oh this guy..the publicity makes him like a rock star..and just push it away. But you owe it to yourself to be informed. Get all the information you can and make up your own mind. Even with his harshest critics he called and said "lets talk about this" He has changed hearts and minds of these people. Not by doublespeak...not with fancy rhetoric. This guy actually walks the walk. Unlike the Republicans or some other career Washingtonians, he actually believes the American people have a brain. Oprah has never endorsed any candidate, black or White. (jesse jackson ran at one time)So being as big as she is, she is not going to stake her reputation on any endorsement unless she is really moved. I am not a Obama zelot. I have not been interested in politics until now. Check him out..there are some great videos so you can decide yourself. http://www.barackobama.com

    July 19, 2007 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  9. cliff jones, honolulu hi

    Oprah might want to re-consider giving her fund raiser for Obama after he just "rose hell and half of Georgia" with his comments about teaching sex education to Kinder gardeners.

    July 19, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  10. Tom... American abroad.

    Next headlines you'll see... Paris Hilton endorses Hillary Clinton? Arnold Schwarzeneger endorses Rudy Giuliani? Barbara Streisand endorses John Edwards?

    Who cares whom a multi-millionaire endorses. Just shows how shallow the mentality of american voters are. None read both sides of the issues, explore the background of the candidates and vote on their merits... they merely allow either the media, or the big names (or in this instance a big name who controls a media empire) to make their decision for them in a soundbite before they get off the couch!

    July 19, 2007 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  11. TC, Saskatoon, SK Canada

    Some of you guys are a piece of cake, lol. Racism is alive and well (still) in the U.S. and it's freakin 2007 for cripes sakes.

    Why no questions and outcry about the white folk backing the white candidates? You *NEVER* hear that. Why? Because you never think about it, it's not an issue. Suddenly it is for black/black support.

    And I never knew that an American was expected to use 100% of his/her resources to support Americans only–and never ever elsewhere around the world. Wow. Just. Wow.

    Is there this uproar when other celebrities get behind a candidate: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Elizabeth Hasselback, Barbra Streisand, yada yada yada? Oh but those are rich white folk. It's not as outrageous is it.

    But when a rich, powerful black woman gets a bit too uppity and oversteps, wooooweeee, not many happy campers about that huh.

    The racial bias on MANY COMMENTORS here is so transparent and ugly, and yet this is so scary since it's just a small percentage of those WHO THINK THE SAME WAY but aren't commenting here.

    Carry on America. You have such a long, long, long way to go. And I suspect Oprah and Obama knew that such a long, long, long time ago.

    July 19, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  12. lamarguerite

    It's all good, and going towards the same cause anyway. How about Al Gore, Oprah?

    Marguerite Manteau-Rao
    Green blogger, for Al Gore

    July 19, 2007 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  13. Perry, Dallas, Texas

    Yep...Oprah endorsed James Frey's book..."A Million Little Pieces" and made a best seller written by a fraud.

    Probably the same idiots that bought James Frey's book will vote vote for Hussein Obama.

    July 19, 2007 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  14. Eric W, New Jersey

    This is ridiculous- There is nothing wrong with a prominent black figure supporting potentially the first black president. Tons of prominent christian evangelical whoevers came out to support W and no one accused them of anything. And by the way, I'd be more comfortable if my president had oprah's money in his campaign warchest rather than halliburton and enron's money

    July 19, 2007 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  15. Rudi, Vientiane, Laos

    So, a white person voting for a white politician is NOT a racist but a black person voting for a black politican IS?

    July 19, 2007 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  16. Mike, Ft Worth, TX

    Why are you so concerned about who Oprah endorses? You should instead spend time researching the candidates yourself... so that you can make an informed decision.

    And the whole "racist" arguement is a load of crap – just because a black person supports a black candidate doesn't make them racist.

    July 19, 2007 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  17. Bily, kansas city, missouri

    And it’s plain to see that race is an issue. First black presidential candidate, firt time Oprah has ever endorsed a candidate.

    Consequential? I think not.

    Posted By W is Still the Prez : July 18, 2007 3:33 pm

    How dumb can you get....? First of all Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have also been presidential candidates and Oprah did not endorse them. Making your point totally invalid. ALSO, you people who say she supports him because he is black. What ignorant racist you all are. So, you are implying that if a white male supported a white male for President he would be a racist...? Of course you are not saying that.. Because a white can endorse a white with no racial implications, but if a black supports a black ignorant people call foul. Get a life and educate your close minded, self righteous selves.

    July 19, 2007 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  18. Rob, Jacksonville,FL.

    WOW...It is amazing how one person can cause a stir. If anyone posting a comment here does not think race is an issue, you are blind. For years, every President elected has had a celebrity or two to endorse them. It shouldn't matter if Oprah wants to support Obama...She has done a lot of charity work in America...For the person in RI, we do not need to lean on Oprah to build schools here in America, that's why we have a gov't. but their(gov't) track record is not good. It's amazing they(gov't) can give millions to other countries when diaseter skrikes(tsunami) but can't help their own people when it hits home(Katrina and flooding in the midwest). It's 2007, why are we still playing the RACE CARD. It doesn't matter if she is endorsing someone from Star Trek, it is her political belief. Hell, we all have one.

    July 19, 2007 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  19. R. D. Moore, Kimpo City, Republic of Korea

    "Oprah has the right to endorse any pesidential canditate she chooses to endorse. Personally, I've decided to vote for Sentaor Clinton because I feel she will have the support of her husband who is an economics genius and the support of several other intelligent people who are capable in solving the MESS our country finds its-self in. I'm concerned about jobs in America, trade, foreign policy and the right people to get America back on track. I seriously doubt if race is an issue here."

    July 19, 2007 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  20. Rob, J'ville,FL

    SPELL CHECK: it strikes not skrikes...sorry but you get the point.

    July 19, 2007 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  21. Rick Clay Lorton,va.

    the main reason Oprah Winfrey is supporting Barack Obama is because he is black. She can say what she wants but I know better. I'm very disappointed in her.I've always liked Oprah but in this case I'm totally against her. We must stand up and Prove she is wrong!!!!111

    July 19, 2007 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  22. Retiree In Kawleefawnya

    In my opinion, supporting a candidate, much less voting for them, based on the color of their skin is almost as absurd as the idea that someone isn't qualified for the office they are running for based on the color of their skin. Only someone truly stupid would do either one.

    Myself, when it comes to voting for someone for President, I tend to vote for people with previous government jobs, preferably someone with extensive administrative experience given the type of job being the President is, and that is something Barack Obama does not have that much of.

    Sure, he has a lot of fancy college degrees, and he went to Harvard. Big deal. A lot of politicians can say that. What kind of administrative experience does he have?

    Not to mention, what kind of Military experience does he have? If he plans to be President with a War going on, he really should have some Military experience.

    He may be good at giving speeches and he can speak English without mangling it like you know who, so that would be a plus in his favor, but is he really qualified to be President of the United States? I'm sorry, but even if Oprah thinks he is, I don't.

    July 19, 2007 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  23. Tim, Honolulu, HI

    The guy is half black half white. So what the heck is this whole black thing about? There are more white people than black people supporting Obama in my area. Some like to say this is about color, the reality is that Obama is a top notch candidate and I believe this guy is going to be our next president.

    July 19, 2007 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  24. Anonymous, Somewhere IN

    Some say she is racist. Her credibility by supporting African girls and having lunches at her house with Black women describes the famous and well-known celebrity a racist. She has no background and credibilty of supporting Barack Obama nor Hilary Clinton. If she wants to support anyone it would be wise for her to support anyone but those two. If this is what the world comes to as celebrities and religion and race decide our leaders then I am ashamed.

    July 19, 2007 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  25. Gene Mustang Ok

    Could Oprah’s unprecendented “belief” in Obama also be based on race? Perhaps one reason that Oprah has not supported or "believed" in other candidates this much is the fact that Obama is black. No Way! Not Oprah!

    July 19, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
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