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. Michael Evans, Maryland

    I do not think this has anything to do with race, it has to do with socialism. Obama is following the same old liberal line of taxing us to death to fix our social ills. We canot afford to allow a taxing liberal win the Whitehouse because it would be a disaster for economy and our country.

    July 19, 2007 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  2. Debbie Jones, Virginia Beach, Virginia

    With regards to the very first comment, about 'why help other countries and not help your own'. Well, in America, citizens HAVE the opportunities, free schooling, assistance programs, scholarships, almost anything for a 'hard working' person that wants to get ahead. In these other countries, they lack resources for various reasons... I do not think of Oprah as a 'celebrity' I think of her as a VERY hard working woman that has came up from nothing and done nothing but worked and sacrificed to get where she is today. We can take a lesson from her. I came up from nothing – often homeless as a child and moved up to be something. So its not about what has she done for us lately, its more what have we done for ourselves.

    I am not a fan of Oprah, but I do respect her motivation, hard work ethics and empathy. I see what she does, for what it is... Her work in Africa – is the difference between sure death for these young children, or a life with meaning, where then can turn and help others later on. They have virtually no hope, but in America, we do – we just have to pursue it...and stand on our own two legs to carry us there.

    I like Obama, because he is 'real', and I look forward to reading more about his stand on certain programs and what changes he hopes to bring to our country and our people.

    I want a president that knows the hard roads, hard work, and moreso, the hearts of the people they are representing. I will be looking back at each of their history, how they moved up, and out and 'then', before they could cover their tracks, what was what.

    We talk about people that are in poverty, and how much do we, as a people do for them. We sit and wait for one person to make that difference, instead of rising, and being that person. I know homelessness, and hunger but I also had my eyes wide open enough to know, it was the choice of how my parents chose to live their lives, and I decided not to follow the same path.

    I thought as a mother of five I was locked into nothing and I looked for others to help me – and realized I needed to look within myself... I thought I needed to have people hand me money for school, to get the degree, and someone showed me that its only a financial aid application and many scholarship / grant forms away.. its a never ending road which you need to find the strength to walk alone, because.. no one is going to walk it for you.

    Here in America – the resources are there, but in Africa, sadly they do not have the resources or the means to make food from dirt or change people's attitudes about the worth of women, and many of us here in America know that feeling.

    I do not think Oprah is going to coddle anyone, but rather pull them to the podium and ask them to clarify their stand and clear up assumptions.... I doubt she is going to give anyone recognition they did not earn.

    Do not hate Oprah for her rise to fame, she's earned it, and that same opportunity is open to any of us – it just depends upon how hard we wish to do battle for it... can we push when we have no more to give? Sure you can... because I see the fight in your emails... so .. harness it.. do something about it..

    Peace Out

    July 19, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  3. Chris, Atlanta, GA

    In response to the individual who posted from Providence, RI, and found the need to berate Oprah Winfrey and her choice to provide aid to the children in Africa instead of America – I would ask – what have YOU done to help the poor and less fortunate in America? You are so quick to cast stones at the efforts of one person to better our global community, yet what have you done to make this a better world to live in. This article dealt with Miss Winfrey's support of a political candidate and her desire to help advance the issues which Mr. Obama stands for, not her aid to a poor African community.

    July 19, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. No Fan, Portage, Michigan

    In response to a Post By Ruth San Antonio, Texas : July 18, 2007 5:06 pm
    "Oprah has done more for humanity than any one I can think of in this day and age." You better think harder.
    "So what if she helps Africa, those poor people need help. Shes one of the few awesome people who will do it." She is one of the few who can afford to do it. She is also creating a very small group of "Haves" in a land of "Have Nots."
    "As far as Oprah endorsing Obama because he’s black thats nonsense." Are you saying it is because she is black?
    "Have you ever seen the color of her staff that work for her?" Aside from state and federal laws she may also not want to alienate her viewers.
    Now I will "Stop starting stuff and shut up!!!"
    Have a nice day.

    July 19, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  5. bill

    She's an idiot.

    July 19, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. George, Durham, NC

    They're both Illinois residential elitites, so they probably have known each other for a few years. That has more to do with any endorsement than anything else.

    White folks are funny. They support white candidates all the time, but never accuse each other of 'favoring' their race...

    They also like to designate certain black people as 'leaders' of black folks, but white folks who don't like Bill Clinton or W. don't call them their 'leader.'


    July 19, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. Matt, Albany, Georgia

    Plain and simple, she's never endorsed a canidate until Obama, who just happens to be black. If I was black I'd vote for someone just because they were black.

    July 19, 2007 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  8. Cynn Chadwick, Asheville, North Carolina

    The argument that Oprah is endorsing Obama because he is Black is flawed. Were it syllogistically so, wouldn't she first/also support Hillary? How do race and gender rank? Black first? Woman second? or Vice Versa?
    Also, the blatent bigotry of these contentions made here today suggest that it is somehow wrong for Oprah to factor race and gender into her considerations. Who doesn't? Who shouldn't? Who doesn't factor religious idealogies into their support for candidates, nowadays? As a matter of fact, if you want to get ridiculous, there are campaigns to sway us one way or another based on how much a candidate pays for a haircut, whether a candidate wears the Mormon "garment," whether a candidate has been divorced, on a madame's call list, has a lesbian daughter, or a spouse with cancer or is a former president...I mean, I applaud Oprah if part of her actual considerations merit a modicum of substance that could actually matter–race and gender. Not whether one's husband is a philanderer or the other's wife is too tall or that one's kid got busted for dope.
    Our nation's sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers are being killed, maimed, and wounded-physically and emotionally-every day in a war without end or sanity, and here we are blogging about whether it matters if Oprah likes Obama because he's Black- WTF?
    I suggest that if we ALL, myself included, spent our time writing and calling our representatives, rather than yammering here, we could truly be a voice of the people. I, for one, will vote for whoever pledges his/her first act as president to call home ALL troops, immediately. That's who I'm voting for, the one closest to that outcome, be s/he Black or White, Male or Female, it is the ONLY thing that matters, and we WILL be faced with it in 2008, because, I suspect, in Sept., when Gen. Patraeus gives his report, no matter its content, President Bush WILL change course,all right; he will demand another troop surge, and this weak Democratic congress will give it to him. What must happen is that Congress must stop funding this war, there is no other way to stop this madman. And, it has become clear that won't happen. Every day that this Democratic Congress funds this war, it too becomes equally culpable for the sacrifice of the lives of our young American soldiers- for Iraq–the great new democracy of the Middle East.
    I suggest we hold the President AND Congress responsible for every lost life, lost limb, lost mind, lost marriage, lost moment with a child, parent, spouse...this is a lost war, so let's save our soldiers, and not worry so much about whether Oprah likes Obama cause he's Black.

    July 19, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Tricia Charlottetown PEI

    When America takes the Almighty $$$$$$$$$ out of Politics it may actually elect a Great Leader! Till then a Great Leader is only based on how much Corporate Dollars they can raise. What A Pity that the most attratice credentials a Leader of your Nation can possess is US DOLLARS!

    The Truck Load of Bucks being injected into Presidential Campaigns is enough to insure that not one child in the world would be dying of starvation, disease, living in bug infested swallors, or drinking contaminated water, etc. etc. It is truly nauseating! Why do they need a Year Plus Campaign? I guess to ensure they have time to raise as many US Dollars as they can as their private planes could take them across all States in a few months. Insanity!

    Oprah...I have nothing against her but I feel all Celebrities should stay out of politics. It only lends to the Money Racket for them to throw their endorsements into the mix. They should have their vote like every other citizen and that's it.

    July 19, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. Carla T, Columbus, Ohio

    People, people stop bashing Oprah because she endorsed Obama. I don't remember a big uproar when Steven Speilberg endorsed Hillary. If you think it's about color, then I suggest you all start complaining about both candidates endorsements. What's with you people, can it be that maybe you can't except a Black president. I will never understand why Black people will not support Barack, he is the first Black candidate that really has a chance to bring about great change to this country. It's to early in the political game to get crazy, nasty and vicious with our words. I have been a Dem all my adult life and it makes me wonder if I should vote Democratic or just stay home next November!

    July 19, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. The Future of America, Richmond, VA

    It amazes me how narrow minded people in America are. I'm more than sure Oprah doesn't give a hoot about the color of Obamas skin. Did anyone ever think that he is what we need. I'm sick an tired of this administration and their racist bull. Hello did anyone see what happened during Katrina. The Reason that Oprah doesn't help American Poors is because we are unappreciative. She has said repeateadly that we don't cherish education as much as they do, and I agree with her 100%. Let's open our eyes people and turn on our brains.

    July 19, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. Joe L. Mendoza, Houston, TX

    I think the people who choose to complain about petty things in this article should quiet themselves, since it is people like that which put important issues on hold so news anchors and entertainers can pacify their mediocre and irrelevant complaints. Examples would be: "Racism in reverse", which was probably coined by a bigot themselves; and lets not forget that he's not the first black-democratic presidential hopeful, and that Hillary isn't the first woman-democratic presidential hopeful, and she never supported any of either before now. this has to do with what they stand for, and how they can change America for the better. How about, instead of bickering about things that you can't change you focus on what you can, like putting someone in charge who actually knows how to run a country and pull us out of our ever-exceeding deficit. How about for once in this new century, we show the world that we are still the country that once stood united and fought oppressors and those that sought to silence our voice from the world. It seems as though, in these last few years, we have forgotten what it means to be "Proud to be an American" and what it means to stand up for those less fortunate than us, both within and outside ourborders.

    July 19, 2007 09:25 am at 9:25 am |

    i lost my all confidence and belief in OPRAH when she aired a show about "SEX" and "RACISM" in entertainment. What really bothered me was the show was "ONESIDED" when they discussed "RACIST" the only thing that was brought up about racist was what "WHITE HAD DONE" while watching this, I was wondering "WHY" they were not talking aboout the "racist slander" thats going on against the white community in the music, TV shows such as "DAVE CHAPPEL SHOW", BET and so on. OPRAH I lost all faith in you as a leader of the HUMAN RACE. You are onesided just like the rest. If you were concerned for your show would have been about "ALL". and your only support "OBAMA" because he is black..

    enough said.

    July 19, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. Former Republican

    Obama for President, Oprah for VP, Bush for Court Jester!

    July 19, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Providence, RI

    To Jaime: You are mistaken! I am fond of all regardless of color, gender, and sexual orientation! However, I do not like the fact of Oprah's helping Africa more than America. Oprah is an Amrican; not African.

    To Lawrence, Valenci, CA: No, my writing is not atrocious. If it were, I would not have graduated from a presigeous law school, and have a law (j.D.) degree. She helps U.S. too, but not as much as Africa. Remember, she is an American, not African.

    July 19, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. NC

    The people on the left who would vote for Obama because of Oprah's endorsement are the equivalent of those on the right who support Fred Thompson because he plays a good DA on Law & Order.

    July 19, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Oprah said "I am for Barack does not mean I am against Hillary or anybody else". It is not true, Oprah is dishonest woman too because if she thought Obama is qualified as candidate why wait so many months? she should support him public from the beginning. She supported with money first, she thought POLLS will be changed but it won't happen($32M doesn't change the front runner...), so now she think she can change pople's mind and beat Hillary, isn't that too obious? I respected Oprah as successful woman and rich woman. But I disappointed her, she supported Africa children with big money not our children, if you made money in America, you should return the money to America, that's the way good citizen and society means. Another thing is why against Hillary as woman, skin is thicker than homogeneity? Money is Oprah's, she can use her body and money anywhere she wants but the value and result are different sooner or later, I hate people to lie and sneak. Obama used Book Club from her, money, So what is the next? Obama will announce Oprah will attend to Cabinet Meeting like Judy? No more surprise.

    July 19, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. IF Miami, Florida

    To whomever this person from Providence, RI jumps the conclusion because nothing compare here American to South Africa. Have you seen TV or News Time about those people from Africa that are starving to death especially children with their bodies like eskeletons and their stomach got swollen have you see like that here American? No I dont think so! I believe Oprah is doing right thing and I am fully support her as 100%! For your own information that I am latin! Oprah has many secret charities and you may not know that one of them could be in here for poor American! So dont ever jump the conclusion without knowledge about Oprah! I believe in Oprah 100%, and she does know what to do!

    July 19, 2007 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  19. Key, Stanford CA

    You know, skin color MAY have been an added motivation for Oprah's endorsement of the Senator, but I hate to see every one belittle HERS or any other African-American's choice for which candidate to endorse. Besides, I dont see what all the fuss is about; she is simply choosing to ally herself with the candidate who will keep her best interests in mind... whether those be fiscal, social or (yes even) cultural. And how is this different from any other millionaire who chooses to hold a fundraising dinner? Almost all candidates (especially presidential ones) attend dozens of these on the campaign trail EVERY ELECTION- whether that be for local, state or national politics.
    Ooohh right, she's a prosperous black woman doing it, instead of a wealthy white man... and beyond that, the senator and Oprah attend the same church and have spoken out about similar issues- both domestic and international. Though I do not presume to know the ins and outs of Oprah's decision-making processes (which have made her quite successful throughout her career), it is obvious that she and the Senator hold congruous ideas on a spiritual AND intellectual plane... regardless of what you think of her show or the causes she chooses to fight for, the woman is smart, industrious, concerned, successful and yes, AFRICAN-AMERICAN. Why cant her politics reflect that? I'm sure yours would. Lets give her the same benefit of competency that we would give to any other CEO/business/organization who has thus far endorsed presidential candidates.
    Come on people. Leave racial antagonism where it belongs... in the PAST.

    July 19, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Los Angeles, CA

    It is obvious that the only reason Oprah supports Obama is because he is black. Given her social circles, it is surprising that she "has never gotten to know a candidate." Bull! Why not get to know all those running for president and make an informed decision. Why Obama? And, anybody who votes for Obama just because Oprah is endorsing him, is a person who is ignorant and incapable of making a decision for themselves.

    July 19, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. Becky Schlutz, Conn.

    K.R. in Kentucky, you are an idiot! Why shouldn't Oprah help people in Africa? The continent her ancestors were snatched out of centuries ago! Irish, Italian, Mexican, Cuban, Polish and German americans and any other immigrant have always supported their ancestral homelands. WHY CAN'T OPRAH! Is it because Black people are not allowed to do such wonderful things. Many more rich Black people should be doing the exact same thing OPRAH is doing. K.R. please think and learn to write complete sentences before you write another word!

    July 19, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. Sue, San Antonio, TX

    Has everyone actually listened to Obama speak? He is a smart, articulate man who deserves to be considered for president. Since Obama is the senator of IL, where Oprah is from, I don't find it too hard to believe that she knows him. I don't care what color someone is, when there is a candidate this good, it's hard to look past him; unless you have a problem with the color of his skin. But then, anyone who has a problem with that, shouldn't consider themselves a true American.

    July 19, 2007 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Wayne, Mount Laurel New Jersey

    I don't support any candidate just because a celebrity or anyone else endorses that person. But it is amazing that apparently many
    White responders are complaining that a Black women would vote for a Black candidate. Would you want to guess how many of these people every voted for non White candidates? How many predominately White voting areas have non White representation? Not Many, and yet these idiots have the audacity to be outraged. As a rule, I don't expect many Whites to vote for Black candidates regardless of their qualifications, but at least be honest about it. I accept Oprah's reason for supporting Obama, it makes sense, but even if she said she would vote for Obama just because he's Black or Tall or Attractive or Speaks Well or Whatever, I would support her right to do that. It would be stupid, but most of you make that same stupid decision every election. Enough of that, I have an assignment for everyone. I'm sure we all agree that a person should not have to die because they can't afford health care. lets focus our energy on supporting candidates who will make sure that everyone has coverage. That seems so simple, if we can spend 20 billion a week to invade and occupy Iraq under false pretenses, I sure we can do this. Off you go, be strong and report back later; Peace Out.

    July 19, 2007 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. Dineo Dipuo

    How many millionaires are there in america? why would someone in america complain about oprah helping the poorest continent in the would.shame on you providence.why would you want to be selfish and critises oprah for helping us in africa.i bet you havent been here in africa. do you have a clue how africa has contributed to american success and prosperity!!! the slaves, the movies we buy and watch, the music, the nikes, pepsi, jack daniels, the list is endless. what have you ever bought that is african made? you were off the topic my brother or sister. Period.

    July 19, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Larry, Philadelphia, PA.

    Be carefull what you wish for Oprah, just because a presidential candidate shares your skin tone.

    July 19, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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