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. Tammy, Denton, Maryland

    Oprah is a billionaire who doesn't have to care. But she does. What difference will it make to her who's president? She will be okay regardless of who wins this election. If I were a billionaire I'm not so sure I would care based on the stupidity I'm reading on this blog.

    Oprah is not doing it for money. She is not doing it for power. She's doing it because she believes it's the right thing to do. God bless her for that.

    I'm so grateful that Oprah has stepped up to do what she thinks is in the best interest of our country and its citizens. She doesn't have to speak out. She doesn't have to subject herself to the criticism and racism I've read on this blog. And yet, she's willing to do it because she loves her country.

    Many of you should be ashamed of yourselves for the ugly things you're saying about a loving and caring fellow citizen.

    You don't hear too many billionaires out there advocating for average Americans like you and me. Most of them are too busy trying to figure out how to rip us off through some tax loophole. Be grateful this billionaire cares. Be thankful.

    September 6, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. E Hutchison Atlanta, GA

    I think it's great that Oprah stepped out and supported who she wants for President like any other american. Will she be a driving force for Obama, YES..
    I can see it as good and bad but clearly the good will out weigh the bad.

    September 6, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Tim, Acworth, GA

    If she can get people to look at him closer and see what he stands for then go for it. People are ruling him out before they even listen to his message which is a shame and would rather vote for Rudy or Hilary to continue the same type of politics we've seen for the last 16 years!!!

    September 6, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Mikey, Brooklyn, NY

    To those people spouting this "racism" crap:

    Oprah jumped on board because Obama is black? Really? She told you this? Interesting. Because in my entire life I've never felt passionately about a candidate. That is, until I heard Obama speak, time after time, and realized -this- is a man who deserves to be President. And who I will urge everyone I know to pay attention to.

    Any chance you might entertain the thought that Oprah feels the same way?

    September 6, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Loyda, WDC

    It is me, or this piece of "news" have lastest longer in the ticker that all the reporting done on the GOP debate???????

    sorry, CNN, but I have to call them as I see them, and Oprah should not have more spotlight that the IDEAS of the ACTUAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES!!!!!

    September 6, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. IrishAmericanForObama, Cincinnati, OH

    When I see the disingenuously negative comments about Oprah's involvement in the Obama campaign, IT MAKES ME HAPPY! I know it has struck a nerve and people are scared to death. It means people recognise the power of God, I meant Oprah.

    The people making these negative comments would never vote for Obama even if God himself endorsed him.

    But the truth is, while these crazy folks are ranting in the blogosphere, the people whom Oprah will influence to vote for Barack are on their couch watching her show. They’re not reading all those comments.

    September 6, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Jason Smith, Oneonta, NY

    I lived and went to graduate school up the road from where Oprah grew up in Kosciusko, MS. It is dirt poor even today, and is totally forgotten by any politician, unless there is something personal at stake, such as when Trent Lott's house was damaged by Katrina, and then all of a sudden he cared about the home insurers pulling out of the state. There are no opportunities unless they need someone to work in the new casinos in Tunica, or the new Nissan plant in Canton.

    I dont watch many talk shows but I admire Oprah's determination in getting out of that place. As such, she is very outspoken and adamant in her beliefs. I, like many Americans, questioned why she opened her school in Africa and not in the U.S. and then thought about how much money is wasted in schools in this country, and how no schoolchildren I have worked with in this country have ever appreciated all the efforts and resources to educate them...In the South, we had backwards policies such as forced integration and redistricting which only forced my family to be uprooted several times, and changing schools, for some totally ineffective policy just for political gains by changing the voting districts.

    The increasingly mind-numbing bureaucracy, faith-based mumbo jumbo, "No child left behind" idiacy, and increasing burdens placed upon teachers in order to "teach to the test" instead of really educating children is putting us further down the wrong road...I think Obama is the only truly independent candidate that is not beholden to special interests. Other candidates' "experience" has only distanced themselves from the American public on health care, education, etc. and led us into a protracted endless war to establish ever-more permanent bases overseas, first in Iraq, then Iran, and finally Syria. No Republican candidate except Ron Paul will get us out of the quagmire, and the Republican establishment won't let him get any airtime, since he is not following along party lines.

    Therefore, Oprah's endorsement was well thought-out and, since her reputation is at stake, also a revealing statement that Oprah thought Obama has a real chance of his voice resonating with the American people...

    September 6, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Tania, Naples Florida

    Oprah does not make any smart person do anything, from buying the book or listing to her, or watching her show. That is because they are smarter than she is. Smart people dont need celeberties to make them reach. Omly reach people make them selfs reach. not people like Oprah.
    And certenlly not vote for her friends.
    Poeple are doing sinful by listening to her or any shwo buzz person.

    September 6, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. steve clark, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    OPRAH FOR VICE PREZ!!!!!!

    September 6, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Tim, Acworth, GA

    I don't know why people try to conjoin Obama with Al Sharpton just because they are both black. Al Sharton doesn't even like Obama and is still harboring resentment because Obama didn't back him when ran for President. That's like saying if Rudy gets elected Jim Baker or Pat Robertson will have a direct line to the White House.

    September 6, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. monica, rochester NY

    Those of you who've said "only uneducated" people watch or listen to Oprah, I guess you don't know the Gallup poll facts that show most educated women are supporting obama, and most uneducated women are supporting Hillary. So what does that tell you about Hillary?? In this country when a Black person supports another Black in politics or work or wherever, white people generally accuse them of doing it for race. How many Black presidents have white people ever supported. Before Obama, the answer in ZERO. How many Black senators have white people supported, considering Obama's only the 3rd in history. Only 1 Black governor etc. etc. So white people have no moral authority to accuse any black person of only supporting their own race, it doesn't even make any sense. I guess she was suppose to support Hillary to make you happy. Obama is great and inspiring and Oprah has always been attracted to greatness, it's not her fault we've never had anyone like that in recent memory to run for president.

    September 6, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Diamond. Bradenton, FL

    First, to claim you would not vote Obama because he was endorsed by Oprah is a BIG FAT LIE.
    The reverse is more likely to be true.

    Second, Oprah is not seeking favors from Obama or repaying him for favors traded. Besides he's trailing Hillary in the polls and endorsing him seems like a risky thing to do. That's why Oprah's endorsement is more genuine.

    That's why her endorsement is as good as a victory for Obama and people know it. If she had endorsed Hillary, this election would've been over.

    September 6, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. Ed Mares Rio Rancho, N.M.

    Ophrah's backing of Obama does not, in my opion, make him any better of a candidiate. His recent statments regarding the mid-east and his ideas of attacking without congressional approval turned me against him being president.

    September 6, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Ellen, San Francisco

    Is Oprah doing a sour grape on Hillary because she did not want her to be her VP in the election? I think this country is not ready for a black president just yet. I think American voters would rather have a white female in the White House than vote for a black candidate. Just the facts of life, folks!

    September 6, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Ike. Manchester, NH

    Experience in what, Herman? In the Senate with only 2 sponsored bills passed or as first lady with a messed up healthcare plan and myriads of scandals? Is that what you call experience? come on tell me something else.

    I challenge anyone who claims to be supporting Hillary because of experience to explain why they're not supporting Bill Richardson, Joe Biden or Chris Dodd instead.

    September 6, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Stephanie, Memphis Tennessee

    WHATEVER! I could care less what Oprah thinks. She is a talk show host with money. That is it! I can only hope and pray that the voters will look at the candidates seriously...this is not like we are voting for Prom Queen & King. Oprah go back to recommending books for your book club, not individuals for President..this is WAY out of your league.

    September 6, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Brenda; Annapolis, MD

    >>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.

    Posted By Cary – Lowell, IN : September 6, 2007 11:49 am >>

    Oh my. How do you think taxes get lowers, crime rates drop, and budgets get set? The answer: through legislation… that's the political process…

    Posted By Ron, TX : September 6, 2007 12:03 pm

    Last I checked Ron, TX–the position of president is within the EXECUTIVE Branch...not the LEGISLATIVE. The president excutes the laws, not makes them. Sure the president can veto, but the legislative branch can override it. That's why they call it the system of checks and balances.

    September 6, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. PD, Iowa City IA

    Obama is not the first black presidential candidate; dump the racist ignorance and learn some recent political history.

    Oprah is a sucker for hope, and that is what Obama is all about. If you respect Oprah's judgment, try to see if you share the values that are her basis for supporting Obama. If you do not respect Oprah's judgment, use your own.

    I think Oprah is a fool. I support Obama based on my own judgment.

    September 6, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Eric, THE Republic of Texas

    Great. So is Oprah officially entering the political arena?

    Given her clout, money, connections and supposed influence, would it be too much to require her to officially register as a 527?

    I don't see any reason why the most power and influential female mogul in media and entertainment should have a problem with that little requirement.

    September 6, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Mary, Beaver, PA

    xtina, I don't always agree with you, but you are dead-on with your comments here. I am tired of people thinking with their guts and their "feelings." It's about time we used, and young people were taught to use, their heads. A logical argument will best someone's warm fuzzy "feelings" any day. Oprah is the Queen of warm, fuzzy "feelings." She has made herself very rich exploiting them.

    September 6, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. Dale K. Bethel, Oh

    I'm sick and tired of so much emphasis placed on the wrong areas of a candidate's qualifications.
    I don't care about Obama's chameleon-like abilities to sound like a Harvard lawyer or a down-home preacher, I don't care about Hillary Clinton's cleavage or femininity. I don't care about Guliani's failed marriages. I don't care about race, gender, politics, or Oprah Winfrey.
    I care about a candidate's ability to do the job – I care about the candidate's ability to put lesser considerations aside for the good of the country.
    Black, white, male, female, Democrat, Republican – all of these things, and more, are secondary, and perhaps even inconsequential, to the President's responsibilities to the Constitution, the people, and the nation as a whole.
    I think it would be interesting to get their take from that perspective.

    September 6, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Bill, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Why are people upset over Oprah using her celebrity and money to endorse Mr. Obama? Lets face it, all elections and politicians are bought and paid for. Beconming a Political appointees is generally "pay back" for support in one form or another. Given the way black people have been treated in this country ( I am a highly educated white man by the way)I can understand why Oprah would want someone representing her that looks like her. Obama inexperienced? Cheney and Rumsfeld are experienced serving in previous administrations. What a mess they've gotten us into in Iraq. Who was an executive at Haliburton? Boy we need some more "experienced politicians" like them. Who was the boob we had for Vice President to the 1st President Bush? Dan Q.....? Thank God the President never became incapacitated. Lastly, Oprah has done a lot with her money to benefit a lot of people of all ehtnic origins, all over the world. I doubt she's a "closed racist" She didn't get rich because she's stupid. I think she's done her homework on Mr. Obama.

    September 6, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. TalkAboutChange, Ames, IA

    Oprah only endorses genuine article and Oprah's endorsement is not for die-hard Hillary supporters. It is for independent open-minded voters who would like to give Obama a second look.

    Those posting negative comments here are jealous and scared loyal supporters of other candidates who wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.

    Think about this- The Clintons are not the only family in America. They've had their chance. Why are they being greedy?

    September 6, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Brent

    Why doesn't Oprah just run herself? Oh wait, she could never win. Neither can Obama, but at least he won't have a reputation to ruin (he has no reputation at all, and that is ALL he has going for him). Obama is a worthless candidate. Being a well spoken black man does not automatically qualify him to lead the country –especially considering some of the crisis that we face with hostile anti-American/Western regimes and terrorism.

    The only worse candidate in my view, would be Clinton. Bill did nothing about terrorism during his terms. Why would Hillary act any differently? She wants to ignore the threats to our country and raise yours and my taxes, so she can "buy" support for socialism through "free" health care. However, anyone with a brain knows that America has by far, the best health care in the world. Also, Universal Health care is only free for those who already don't contribute jack our Nation anyway, primarily because it is far more convenient and easy to blame someone else for not working, rather than having a strong work ethic, an aptitude and motivation toward success, and the satisfaction and appreciation that only comes from earning a living through hard work - resulting in self reliance for oneself and his family. People who work have insurance - and that is the bottomline.

    What is pathetic about both of these candidates is the fact that they rely on people who are too lazy and/or dumb to make a career for themselves by utilizing whatever talent that God have given as a gift to them. It is far easier to not take responsibility for yourself, because when times are rough, it is always somebody else's fault.

    By the way, it seems to me that this welfare system is a horrible failure, since there are still an awful lot of people on it. You would think that this "free" money might help people get on their feet. You would think wrongly. Why work and take responsibility for your own life, when you can let some other moron do it?

    So if you want to let some other moron run your life, vote for a liberal.

    September 6, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. joe rockford,il.

    OPRAH IS NOW SHOWING HER THRU SELF
    WHICH IS VERY SAD, i will not watch her show anymore

    September 6, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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