September 6th, 2007
01:56 PM ET
15 years ago

Oprah may take visible role in Obama campaign

Watch CNN's Bill Schneider report on Oprah's potential role in the Obama campaign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The impact of a prominent presidential endorsement often fails to resonate at the polls, but popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey's backing of Barack Obama could prove to have a more significant effect.

Oprah, who first told CNN's Larry King last year she is backing Obama, may assume a visible role in his presidential bid, a source close to the Illinois senator tells CNN. She is already slated to hold a star-studded fundraiser at her California estate this weekend.

Oprah has repeatedly shown her name can sell nearly anything, but the media magnate has never endorsed a presidential candidate before.

It remains to be seen if the popular talk show host's role may go beyond raising money from her Hollywood friends, but the prospect of seeing Oprah in campaign commercials or on the stump is already causing widespread speculation on the effect she may have.

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soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Hopeful, Trenton, NJ

    The point is not that Oprah will be blindly leading anyone, or that the election will be bought. It is that Oprah has the respect of a lot of people. When we make decisions on how we feel about issues affecting us, we sometimes look to people whose opinions we respect. I Oprah is simply introducing Obama to this group of people that pay attention to her. His main problem in the polls is not that he is not a viable candidate, but that Hillary Clinton is a household name, and people will say they are voting for her simply because they don't know enough about the other candidates. I think that as people start to pay more attention to what Obama says, and how genuine he is when he says it, then things will change. Overall, voting for someone because a celebrity tells you too is ridiculous. However paying attention to the people they are supporting is never a bad thing.

    September 6, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. Tulsa Oklahoma

    Well I would hope that we can think for ourselves why is it we say Church and State or seperate but Oprah can say hey I'm backing this man and we say okay well if Oprah says he is okay then he is okay. Sorry Oprah is not my leader as much as I respect her and much as Halle is my girl, I will not be voting for Obama, or Hillary I have not decided yet but I can think for myself and I do not need Hollywood to thinking for me. I may vote republican again like I did last time what we need to do is listen to all the people that are running for office and see what we consider important to us and that is how we should vote and not get upset the 1st time someone disagree's with what you say you turn on them . I said that to say this no matter how much I may agree with somethings a person stands for when it comes down to it I will still go ahead and think for myself thanks but no thanks.

    September 6, 2007 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. Josh D, Wichita Falls, Texas

    Let's just hope Obama doesn't slip one past Oprah and America the way James Frey did...the US might be in a million little pieces if we listen to Oprah too much...everyone should listen to their own beliefs before relying on someone made famous by daytime tv...

    September 6, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Michelle, Marion, VA

    Oprah always talks about empowering women. Then, she turns around and backs a man for president when there is a woman running. She doesn't stand by what she preaches.

    September 6, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. D.Barris Meadville, PA

    Even with all her money, Oprah is a caring and giving individual. Maybe she knows something about Obama we don't. Either way, we are truly a country in trouble if Hillary goes to the White House.

    September 6, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American. I cannot vote.

    Dan from TX says:

    "...So Hillary has Bill and Barack has Oprah. That more than levels the playing field.

    "I don't think Oprah can convince anyone directly to vote for Obama, but she can convince people to look closely at him and his policies and then decide for themselves."

    That's well thought out and concisely presented. Good fodder for the reader.

    September 6, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. David, Silver Spring, MD

    J. Smith of Washington DC tries to suggest that Oprah is supporting Obama because of his race. That's absurd, given that in 2004 Carol Mosley Braun of Illinois also ran for President. If Oprah were just out to support a "black" candidate, that would've been the time to do it.

    Oprah has proven herself to be intelligent, articulate, and engaged in the world around her. I think her endorsement should be seen in light of her obvious qualifications to make such an evaluation.

    September 6, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Martina Rodriguez - East Rutherford, NJ

    Who cares ? The regular viewership and so-called "Church of Oprah" are of below-average intelligence and will readily vote for someone, if they are told to do so.

    Ironically, a large percentage of such voters will probably recoil in horror and denounce Oprah, when she finally reveals herself to be a lesbian.

    September 6, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. aen... brazil

    Obama/Oprah, anyone? She's trying to buy her place in the ticket.

    Think about it, she's a woman and she's black. Isn't that Elizabeth Edwards' (bless her – just wish she wasn't involved in the campaign/her husband wasn't running) recipe for success?

    September 6, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. C. K. Preddie, Ontario, Canada

    There is no doubting Oprah's power and influence. However, prior to speaking on Larry King's show, she introduced Hilary Clinton as the next President of the U.S.A. How times have changed.

    Recently Mr. Obama was reported to have argued that he has more experience than Hilary Clinton, which would mean that he has had greater exposure to conventional politics and conventional thinking in politics that Hilary Clinton, which might make him more contaminated by the wat we do politics today, that she has been. We should remember she was not a member of her husband's administration even thoug so many Americans now seem to link her directly with that administration at the same time that they wish to deny her that experiebce.

    September 6, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. Stefanie Richard, Canada

    Really I am impressed if women in America just start voting. So if it takes Oprah to do that, so be it. Perhaps it will create a habit for the futur.

    September 6, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Obama brings hope to the forgotten people. If Oprah can help draw more focus to Obama then thats great. Its no different from getting a labour union to endorse a candidate. The union guides or influence its members on who to vote for, they dont force them. its my believe Oprah would look to do the same for Obama. Oprah is a very influencial person to many americans of all classes and races.

    September 6, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. Dawn, Arlington VA

    Shelly, Owasso Ok,

    Did you have such a negative reaction when Steven Spielberg endorsed Hillary Clinton? Like you, Spielberg and every other American, Oprah Winfrey has every right for her voice to be in heard. If she truly believes that Senator Obama is the best person suited to lead this country, why shouldn't she say so? Last I checked, there wasn't a financial or celebrity cap or exclusion to being part of the democratic process. If Ronald Reagan and Arnold Swartenegger (spelling?) could jump from the big screen to the CA governor's seat, then Oprah has every write to be part of this process too.

    September 6, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. georgina

    So does this mean that when Queen Oprah has a fund raiser for Obama, all will wear black and she and he will wear red to distinguish themselves with the great unwashed? Get over yourself Oprah!

    September 6, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. Steve Wittlake Blaine Washington

    Before the Democratic primaries and caucuses are over Clinton and Obama will have destroyed the Democratic
    party.

    September 6, 2007 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Dawn, Arlington VA

    Jerry,Tallahassee,FL

    Who are you...the reincarnation of Jerry Falwell? Define Evil! Is evil spending millions of dollars each year to educate African American men at Morehouse University and other colleges and universites around the country? Investing in euducation in South Africa to create future leaders to lead that nation out of poverty and despair? Donating millions to the recovery of NOLA? Donating millions to catch child sexual predators? Purchasing a new home for Corretta Scott King? Spending untold millions more to better the lives of Americans and people around the globe?

    Jerry, what are you doing to better the lives of anyone? Nothing!

    September 6, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  17. Sam, Washington, DC

    A great example of why we need to re-implement the fairness doctrine.

    September 6, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Cary - Lowell, IN

    Obama is a nice enough guy, but what is his experience in makig budget decisions, lowering taxes, and lowering crime. He doesn't have ANY experience, other than legislating, which is NOT what a President does.

    September 6, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. Patty Schroeder, Aurora, IL

    People suggesting that Obama is using Oprah and Hillary is using Bill to promote their candidacy is totally absurd. Both of these candidates have their positives and some ngatives. No one from the democratic side is perfect, but certainly they are superior than any of the republicans. People should not vote based on the endorsements by celebrities, but by their positions, experience, and wisdom to handle difficult issues.

    September 6, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. James, Phoenix AZ

    Oprah has enjoyed much success in talk-show hosting, production company (Harpo), magazine, etc. I genuinely believe THIS will be her undoing – becoming too involved in Obama's campaign. Oprah has come under her own spell that if OPRAH endorses it the rest of the country should buy it. Now she wants to prove her endorsement can inaugurate a Presidency.

    I hope Americans DON'T vote for Obama simply to put an end to Oprah's ego trip. Hollywood and Talk-Show hosts make tons of money entertaining us – not THINKING for us.

    September 6, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. doug cahttanooga, tn

    I predict a possible backlash of many of Oprahs white,female, conservative minded fans who will stop viewing the Oprah show. This is not a view from a racial point but rather one from a political stand.

    September 6, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. Shelly, Owasso Ok

    Dawn, Arlington, VA

    I have absolutely no problem with Oprah endorsing Obama or anyone else. I just don't want to see it on her show or read about it in every issue of her magazine. Heck She can run herself I just don't want to see her on the campaign trail everytime I turn the TV on. Oh and go easy on the coffee.

    September 6, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Karen-Harrisburg PA

    I just think it is obvious, that she is only backing him because he is black. She never supported anyone before and now she is. I do think she does a lot of good generally for all
    kinds of people but the bottom line, is, she is black and will always be of the mind set to stick with blacks, yet it the very people that say not to be prejudice. Look at Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson..only things they get involved with are when blacks are accused. I still never remembering them apologizing to the Duke boys when it came out the girl was a fraud.
    Dont see them disgusted with Mike Vick that killed and did all sorts of undergrounded related to the dog fighting...but we are to FORGIVE HIM...but hate IMUS for using words.
    He didnt kill and gamble away monies that could help someone...but Vick..all those monies could be goin to schools and help the blacks..IMUS has ranch for sick children..
    the inequity of the thinking of most people -for me...I dont get it!

    September 6, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Angel, Alexandria, VA

    Oprah can support whoever she wants, there's nothing wrong with that. Get off her back. If you dont want to vote for Obama, then DON'T. But Oprah can do whatever she wants!

    September 6, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. Roberto, Austin, TX

    I'm a conservative who hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1992, however after listening to positions and looking at leadership ability, I will be supporting Obama this election. We need a leader, not a lobbyist and PAC sellout like Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, or Romney.

    September 6, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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