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.

Full story

soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    If oprah want to influence politics,
    she should run herself.

    September 6, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Caroline Mass.

    Oprah didn't even know where to put the gasoline nozzle in her car when she filled her tank up with gas last summer on her "road trip" with Gail. Why on earth should her supporting Barack Obama sway me to do the same?

    September 6, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Michael James - Illinois

    For what it's worth, I think having Oprah help Barack is a positive development for him.

    A lot of people like Oprah and respect her opinions. A lot of rich and powerful people have a high opinion of themselves and Oprah is no different in that regard. If you are a person who doesn't like Oprah for whatever reason(s), why do you care what she does with her time and whatever political capital she may be able to amass on behalf of her chosen candidate?

    There was an interesting story I saw recently that illustrated how George W. Bush received a big bounce after he appeared on Oprah's show and spoke about his faith and love for his wife, etc. If just having the platform of Oprah's show did that for Dubya, I don't see how having that and more for Barack in this election is a negative for Barack.

    All you need to do is look at how Oprah's book club can instantly turn a book into a bestseller to know that Oprah's backing can make a big difference.

    The bottom line is that, like many of us, Oprah sees great things in Obama and, for the first time, is getting active in supporting a candidate. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    September 6, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. xtina - chicago IL

    People who are prone to left wing thinking make their decisions based on "emotion" and "feelings". That's why there's so much anger and sensitivity in the Democratic party. they must "love" their politicians, in turn their politicians usually have fractured histories that make them seek out the love of voters.

    Conservatives may like their candidates, but it's more a business decision- who is going to protect our country from enemies, who is going to lower taxes, etc. It's like someone here wrote, look at it as a job interview; credentials more important than likeability.

    September 6, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Shaurita Hutchins West Point, Mississippi

    In response to LINDA KENNEDY from KNOXVILLE, TN, I am not sure how you could say that Oprah has decided to jump on the Obama bandwagon because he is black. Hmmm....If she was being so "racial", then wouldn't she have helped Al Sharpton considering he ran for the democratic nomination about 3-4 times. OR wouldn't she have helped Jesse Jackson.....Hmmmm.....Your reasoning seems to be lacking factual evidence. And I'm not sure but....I do believe that Barack Obama is bi-racial soooooo...Hmmm...Why can't you just believe that Oprah actually supports Obama because she feels that he's the best candidate??? Wouldn't that make since?

    Furthermore, is America really ready to change? I mean....Caucasian female president or Biracial Male President? hmmmm......It's hard for me to believe that as a country we will actually choose a minority (considering that women are considered a minority and so are African-Americans or biracial people)!

    September 6, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. marlo chicago il

    is it because of the color?not sure why she is risking so much with someone that somehow what he means always comes out the wrong way,is he going to lead us on this post 9/11 era?I can just imagine him nuking our allies and saying thats not what i meant!oops, by the way he hasnt accomplished anything to be deemed our next leader.

    September 6, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. KeepinItStraight, Atlanta, GA

    Some of you all are funny. I am not an Oprahist (although I give her credit for what she has done for others) but let’s be real:
    • There is no reliable source stating she will serve as an Obama spokesperson.
    • Celebrities backing candidates is nothing new people. It’s just being sensationalized by the media which in turn forces CNN and others of its caliber to cover such superficial stuff to keep up with those who have no problem feeding it’s audience nonsensical news that affects no one. When was the last time you bumped up your credit score by knowing ________________(fill in blank with whatever hollywood crap the media is sensationalizing this afternoon)?
    • To say Oprah should lay low means one believes she single-handedly “crushed” the beef industry. It was learning how beef stays in your system for days while festering that made people question their diet choices (along with this little thing called Mad Cow- duh!).
    • The “he needs more experience” excuse is just that – an excuse. I’m not advocating that we elect a sophomore Poli Sci major for prez, but what we have seen for some time now does not bode well for the “I have experience” chant (I must say I kinda like the “shoot from the hip” Uncle Gravel but I know he won’t win).

    Who I will vote for is still up in the air but I WILL VOTE – and my ballot will be cast for the best candidate who speaks to those issues which are relevant in my opinion – not for the one who appeared on “Entertainment Tonight”.

    September 6, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Terri

    People need to really wake up here. You are being influenced by EVERYONE. The media has been force feeding you their chosen candidates for decades! Politicians have done it ... forever. At least the usual ones.

    Oprah is a citizen also. If she chooses to endorse a candidate, she has as much right as anyone.

    If anyone allows anyone at all to influence their vote, without doing their own thorough investigation about who these candidates are and what they stand for, then stop blaming celebrities and media and everyone else for your failure to make an informed decision.

    I could care less who Oprah endorses. I could care less who the media has coronated. I am my own person, and so are you. Stop listening to second-hand information, and political spin jobs. You found your way here, you can find your way to a wealth of information on who the candidates are and what they stand for.

    I support Barack Obama because I've done my homework. I keep myself informed on all the candidates. So my choice is clear.

    You have the ability and responsibility to think for yourself. There is a lot of misinformation and political spin to wade through to get it, but it's there.

    September 6, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Johnny Chicago

    Sorry folks, bottom line here is that Oprah is the most successful Minority/Woman in the world. I would challenge anyone to find a more inspirational and powerful public figure. This does not mean that she will jam Washington rhetoric down anyones throat to promote Obama rather she will merely provide the best possible forums for the Candidate to speak and be discovered in. Obama will not have to do much once the right people in the right places get a chance to hear the man. He is brilliant, and is exactly what this country needs in this ultimate time of desperation. Our country is on the brink of ruin. 4, 8, 12, 16 years more of the same two families running this country not only sounds like a monarcy or dynasty, but it also sounds like a broken Democracy. Please people, I emplore you to take a chance.

    Obama 08

    September 6, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. jinnifer, lakewood, ohio

    what i believe to be absurd over this whole subject is that everyone seems to be arguing over whether oprah should/not endorse and whether anyone should/not vote obama because of this.
    why can't americans get over celebrity status and wealth? that is what has put this country in these dire straits. if americans would stand up and argue about the true issues [education and taxes] we wouldn't have to worry about who oprah is and what she does.
    If people really cared about who their president is we would have a higher voter turnout and more involvement in the process. Instead, the American media plays up stories like this and people spend their time arguing over the rights/wrongs of who someone endorses.
    It is time for America to stand up for themselves. But they are too busy with their fantasy football drafts, who is going to win survivor, and what is on oprah!
    GET A LIFE!!

    September 6, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Dave C. Phoenix, AZ

    She obviously thinks that this country needs new leadership and believes in his vision. She wouldn't stick her neck out if that was not the case. The same old faces are the reason we are in the shape we are in now.

    September 6, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. RightyTighty

    I'd vote for Oprah before I'd vote for Obama and/or Hillary.

    September 6, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Adriana Illinois

    I cannot stand Oprah's holier than thou attitude and arrogance. Just because she has a talk show and earns millions??I doubt that her ringing endorsement of Obama will be enough to separate him from the rest of the pack.

    September 6, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Rich

    If this demigod Winfrey weants to be president she should run herself. Her overblown ego and "Star Power" has no business in American politics... Let her use her considerable assets where they will do real good and not just feed her lust for power and adoration... let her feed people in third-world countries. Bill Gates has donated more money than Oprah will ever be worth without fanfare or press release... neither does he use his much greater wealth and power to influence the American political process.

    Oprah needs to get some class... ASAP.

    September 6, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Atlanta, Georgia

    Oprah is a joke! Obama running the country will be a joke! Anyone who thinks Obama can make a difference is a joke! Oprah will eventually come down. Play your cards elsewhere Oprah. No one buys anything unless they want to. Oprah doesn't give anything away. It is clearly avertisement from sponsors who basically pay (by giving their products away) to be on her show. For God sake, if anyone remotely thinks that Oprah gives anything away, think twice. Lets start revealing all the dirty little secrets about Oprah, and she'll stop endorsing Obama. Why? She always wants to look good in the public eye. This would definately make her hide! Oprah supports Gayle and that girl never kept her show. She endorsed the book "million little pieces" and had to recant her endorsement as it was very embarrasing. Also, funny thing she has nothing to do with Tom Cruise. Just a laughing and carrying away when he appeared on the show acting foolish. Oh and let me remind you about her close "friend" Jennifer Anniston. does she ever really talk about her anymore? The woman is fake and discusting. I hope her dad publishes the book. "My father and I soeak daily" yeah rightm or you (Oprah) would have known he was writing a book. I hope her family memebers gets paid a lot more to reveal her dirty little secrets!

    September 6, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Celene Medford Oregon

    I think that a woman with the power of influence that Oprah has should not use it to help anyones polictical career.
    Does she really have the inside scoop enough to know who would be the best president?..Because it is frightning that her influence might acutally put someone in office as President ..
    I hope that on this people do what they are supposed to do and think for themselves.

    September 6, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Brian,Memphis,TN

    Oprah the Kingmaker? Celebrities thank they are way more important than they really are.

    September 6, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Nikki emmerson Columbus,Oh

    I ,unlike many others take this a little differently. I can think for myself. Especially when it comes to politics. I am insulted when people believe we have to follow a popular person's beliefs like zombees or something.

    I am educated and open minded,but I will not have someone force feeding their opinions onto me.

    and I am a Oprah fan....
    who likes Obama,but may not vote for him because of this overkill!

    Nikki Emmerson
    columbus Ohio

    September 6, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Mo, Louisville KY

    All the haters on here are just jealous because Obama is going to sweep!

    Oprah is an amazing lady with incredible spirit and generosity. She is 100% self-made and has every right to be proud of herself. She also has every right to speak up because not speaking up is exactly what got this country in a mess in the first place.

    September 6, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. KC, Kansas City, MO

    There are a LOT of haters on this message bored. Get a life, haters, and quit trying to tear other people down.

    September 6, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. xtina chicago IL

    If Oprah is THAT smart and well-educated, she'd know Obama doesn't have any executive experience. No matter how much you "like" someone, why would you want a President who doesn't have any executive experience.

    September 6, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Mike, Richmond, VA

    I don't like her Oprah or Obama. Oprah is a pluralist, a dangerous view and I pray for, and Obama is way too liberal. I am concerned that the ignorant amongst us will vote because Oprah tells us to. However, I hope that the American people will be smart enough to vote for someone good, like Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, or Huckaby.

    September 6, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Jerry Calendine

    What nonsense!!!

    September 6, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Terrence, Albany NY

    Obama fan? yes, Oprah fan? heck no. Do I think her backing Obama is good for his campaign? really couldn't hurt...if you end up not supporting him now with Oprah on board, chances are you weren't much of a supporter to begin with...and if you were somewhat ambivilent about him before and happen to be part of Oprah's audience, well like I said, couldn't hurt.

    September 6, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. aj, birmingham, mi

    This is about adding to oprah's glory! Have you seen her show lately? She had that Broadway star on who says Oprah is the reason she followed her dreams to Broadway; so Oprah doesn't have self-esteem, she has to have people on giving testimonials to how GREAT SHE IS! If you're truly great you're also humble and don't need people stroking you ON YOUR OWN SHOW!

    September 6, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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