December 9th, 2007
06:34 AM ET
15 years ago

The double "O" show

DES MOINES, Iowa–After 20 years covering politics, I’m a hard sell. I’ve seen every gimmick known to politicians: train trips, hang gliders, pyrotechnics and “intimate” conversations with voters in barber shops, front porches, diners and ice cream shops. Lord knows I have seen hundreds of endorsements.

But the Double “O” show, coming to an early primary state near you, was something else again. There was an “Iowa for Obama” sign on the wall, adorned with white Christmas tree lights. The obligatory banner hung in camera range just behind the podium. There were a couple of signs, but no fireworks, no hang gliders, just Oprah and Obama and thousands of their closest friends packed into a cavernous arena in downtown Des Moines.

Gayle (Oprah’s BFF) told one of the women seated next to her that Oprah was up until three in the morning writing her speech introducing Obama. She told people backstage she was nervous. I asked one of his advisers if the campaign had any input. “Nope,” he said “All the Big O.” If that’s true, Winfrey has a future. It was a great speech, and she is a gifted speaker.

The crowd was wild for Oprah. Thunderous applause. Camera flashes lit up the arena. Somebody yelled, “Oprah for Vice-President”. Obama turned around and smiled. That would be, he said “a demotion”. He spent so much time fawning over her she finally asked him to “move along.” He did which-minus the Ode to Oprah- was mostly his standard stump speech.

Afterwards, reporters were asking people in the crowd whether they came for Oprah or Obama. Face it, it’s caucus time in Iowa. They can see a politician any day of the week. This is the Oprah tour, and they understand that at Camp Obama. They welcome that at Camp Obama. She drew them in. He made his case.

Endorsements do not decide elections. I don’t think they matter much at all (I remind you of Al Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean). But as I watched Oprah embrace Obama as thousands of people went crazy, I found myself wondering how many votes a hug is worth.

–CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Race to '08
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Rachelle Ulsan South Korea

    Why did Oprah Winfrey not support Obama before she saw him heading for the lead in the debate?
    At this time, is there something in it for her?
    Rachelle Martin

    December 8, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. TJ, Lewisville, AR

    Where is the outrage? Are we seriously taking celebrities on the campaign trail now? If Obama can't get elected on his own then he isn't the person for his the job.

    December 8, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. Alex, Austin TX

    Thank you for your honest and insightful blog post, Candy. You're one of my favorite political correspondents at CNN.

    Obama '08!!!

    December 8, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |

    Oprah's endosorement is as good as her baking of that infamous plastic surgeon, MJ, her african school where kids are abused. Obama is in the same category in terms of value. Oprah just stik to your lousy talkshow. BTW Ellen is alot better and entertaining than you.

    December 8, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  5. hey allons,tn

    hey no comment could be hate crime will we have freedom of speech in my opinion -o

    December 8, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  6. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Mrs. America,

    BFF – Best Friends Forever.

    December 8, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. Jessica,des moines,Iowa

    Oprah, Thank you for supporting and endorsing Obama. Americans are a smart people and they know who is the right candidate. However it is interesting to see if other people also support your views or not.
    We need somebody who can bring this great country together, who can bridge the divides; the rich and poor divide, the red and blue divide, conservatives and liberal divides.
    I am an independent and I have not heard the message of HOPE from any other candidate so far. Maybe Mitt came close to it. I love it when Barack says ": I want to be the President of ALL Americans". Oprah, thank you for your efforts. Barack is the way to go. We do not need somebody who polarizes this country. We need somebody who can heal this country, be strong on defense, help the economy, take care of our veterans. Thank you Oprah for sharing your views with us.
    Go Obama!

    December 8, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. Mark Tickler, Iowa

    Perhaps Hilary should get Martha Stewart to bake something nice for the next debate...or John Edwards to get Ellen Degeneres to dance with him on stage. Seriously...I would not want to think that Americans are so shallow we would chose a leader of the world superpower based on the recommendation of a daytime talkshow host.

    December 8, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. Phillips Marcs, Toronto, Canada

    thats it...if Oprah endorses Obama I'm afraid I can't watch her show anymore...whats Ellen up to these days

    December 8, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  10. Jae, Dallas, NC

    Oprah supported him long before he was heading for the lead if you check your facts!

    If anyone thinks America is completely over race, you have never been outside of your little world of a community then! Even on the campaign trail in Iowa the issue came up.

    This is great for the visibility factor Obama seems to have in some places of the south!

    P.S. Ellen will NEVER be half as good as Oprah!

    December 8, 2007 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  11. Mike Brown New Jersey

    Go Hilary!!!Nothing I can imagine worse than a Obama pres and Oprah vice pres…would rather think of a Hilary pres and (perhaps) a Al Gore vice pres????

    December 8, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  12. June C., Ohio

    oprah drew on her rabid fans to vote Democratic when Bush got his second term...she didnt help then and she wont help now.

    December 8, 2007 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  13. Paul Price, Chicago, Illinois

    Obama should be humble and take a position in Hilary Administration to learn for several years. Perhaps then he will be more capable.

    December 8, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  14. Peter Brock, Detroit, Michigan

    Obama has to go outside of his family to get support...Cheney is busy this weekend.

    December 9, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  15. mbot565, San Diego, CA

    Rachelle, you obviously so far away you don't know much about Oprah & what's happening here. Oprah has endorsed Obama WAY...BEFORE he even decided to run for president.

    You've gotten as far as commenting, might as well go a lot further, do your research, get informed, it's not that hard.

    December 9, 2007 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  16. observer,NH

    No she is doing what she thinks is right! it is America after all! Go for it for he is better than hillary!

    December 9, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  17. Amy Roc, Galloway, Ohio

    Oprah has been a supporter and friend of Senator Obama for years. Many celebrities endorse politicians, and it rarely makes a difference. Oprah is different, but we'll see.

    I fully support Senator Obama and see him as the greatest hope this country has seen in a very long time.

    December 9, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |

    Great story from Candy Crowley! SHE'S the Best! KUDOS to Candy at the Opie and Obie show.

    HOWEVER, "Endorsements do not decide elections", but Oprah's money will make a big difference here, won't it? I wonder how many people went there expecting to get a free car?

    December 9, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  19. Ron Nebraska

    Mrs. America....BFF Best Friends Forever.

    You know it always surprises me when people make the argument that a celebrity endorsement means I should vote for that candidate. The endorsement is really not the point but campaigning with and for a candidate by a celebrity will bring people out to see the celebrity and then be able to hear the candidates' position. Isn't that the whole point of a campaign, to get as many people as possible to hear your position and see what you stand for? So what's the problem with a celebrity facilitating that anyway?

    December 9, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  20. Carey B. NYC

    I loved this article on the ticker. Great job CNN. Oprah has a huge gift in life, well, in truth she has many gifts but the one that stands out above all others is her gift of truthful "communication." When she speaks people know she is telling the truth and that the words are hers and hers alone, heck she even wrote the speech she gave today. I'm impressed. How many politicians write their own speeches? Now that would be a good polling question.

    I applaud Oprah's courage to get into-the-ring during this 08 Presidential campaign because she has nothing to lose. Her strength is admirable and I am proud to be a woman today. Thanks CNN.

    December 9, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  21. sonya

    Cnn was wrong for cutting of the rally when it was time for Obama to speak. Thank God for Cspan.

    December 9, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. Farah, Dallas, Tx

    While I feel that Hillary is a much stronger candidate than Barrack Obama, I must say that America should just leave Oprah Winfrey alone and not criticize her character...

    Oprah can publicly support whichever presidental candidate she wants too, yet it is the citizens of America who will determine who is president in '08.

    December 9, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  23. Bill,Derry,NH

    Those who complain or whine about Oprah’s endorsment of Obama truly need to get a life.

    Oprah Winfrey has lived in Chicago for decades, and has not moved to Hollywood or Manhattan. She has seen up close and in person what Barack Obama has accomplished in Chicago as a young community organizer, and then as a state legislator.

    To mock her for being a rich black woman is a unique blend of racism and class warfare in reverse. Good for her and good for Obama!

    December 9, 2007 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  24. Christian, Tampa FL

    I think that there should be no underestimating the effect of this kind of thing. When caucus goers think back and remember the energy, excitement, and happiness of the event, they will think more about Obama than other candidates. As has been said, Oprah can't hurt his campaign.

    December 9, 2007 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  25. Matthew, Bethlehem, PA

    Some of you posting really need to get your facts correct or at least do a little research before you post!

    1.) Oprah endorsed Obama long before any debates or him gaining momentum, check past interviews with Larry King months ago!

    2.) Celebrity endorsements and celebrities stumping for candidates is something that has been going on for years and years...why should we be outraged now? (When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, Ben Afleck, Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg and others stumped in Bethlehem, PA for Gore).

    December 9, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
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