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. Jessica,des moines,Iowa

    As a black woman, I have to say that one of the main reasons I love Oprah so much is because of her fervent desire for not only women of color but all women, to take some personal responsibility for themselves. I don’t think that until we can fully understand that the choices we make affect out present and futures, can we successfully progress and have a positive impact. Her aligning herself with Obama is wonderful because from what I’m reading about him, he’s also a huge supporter of womens’ causes and becoming self satisfying.

    There was a post I read earlier urging blacks not to vote for Obama simply because he’s black, however; the main reasons given to support Hillary were from causes her husband Bill was a champion of. I recently posted a blog specific to this type of mentality amoung my people of thinking that Hillary is some how by proxy going to be her husband if elected. Not true people. The same rationale given why not to vote for Obama (because he’s black) is the same applied towards why we should vote for Hillary (because of Bill). I urge all voters of all races to be independent thinkers and vote for someone because of what they stand for, not who they know or what color they are.

    December 9, 2007 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  2. dawn

    How awesome it is to know the value of one’s self.
    Ms Oprah’s worth to Mr Obama goes far beyond $$$$signs & simply making a $4,600.00 max donation
    to his presidential campaign.May The O be with you
    Mr Obama in 08.

    Dawn in Vancouver B.C

    December 9, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  3. Eunice, Nevada

    I love Oprah and support all the social work she has done. Still I fail to understand why people seem to think that Hilary has not helped Americans outside of Politics. If you do the research, one would see all the things that she has done and continues to do for children, poor Americans, women, and healthcare. I think people like Oprah or Obama, that denounce a persons hard work will never win my vote. Hillary deserves more create then she receives, and I think it's due time people started showing some respect. I have seen her blood, sweat, and tears. I have seen her put her heart on the line and fight tooth and nail to improving the lives of all Americans. I still do not see much of a difference in what Obama says and in what Hillary believes. Obama's social-work history outside of politics does not compare to all the social work Hillary did. No candidates dedication, heart and soul is more dedicated to making our country better for all Americans then Hillary Clinton.

    December 9, 2007 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  4. mike shelton, Yuma, AZ

    Oprah was tremendous. Barack didn't disappoint either.

    December 9, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  5. Laura, Silver Spring, MD

    Does anyone see a possible backlash here? I hate it when anyone tells me how to think with their mega-media empire. Let me judge for myself who to vote for! Oprah is a gifted speaker, it's just that this tour smacks of another Oprah-fest, with her sidekick and everything! I want to see more of Obama, not "O."

    December 9, 2007 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  6. Karen, Des Moines, Iowa

    I did not attend the Oprah rally but read about it in the Des Moines Register. That reporter noted that hundreds started leaving during Obama's speech. The attendance does not necessarily reflect Obama's level of support, and "fans" do not necessarily become caucus attendees. Serious caucus goers avoid big rallies like this because all you hear is the same old stump speech and there is no opportunity to ask questions. This may have been more of a distraction than a clever tactic. I guess we will find out on January 3rd.

    December 9, 2007 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  7. John, Des Moines, Iowa

    Obama must have figured he couldn't win on his own. I don't think Iowans are foolish enough to let oprah tell them whom to support. John

    December 9, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  8. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I generally respect Candy Crowley's reporting.

    However, there is a huge segment of the American voting public that couldn't give a wit about Oprah Winfrey. We have jobs, and are generally at work when her brand misguided advice is dished out in the afternoon.

    I took Oprah off my things to do list years ago. Can't stand her. But she does have the right to endorse anyone she wants.

    I'll be voting for the other girl.

    CLINTON '08

    December 9, 2007 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  9. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    I like that, how many votes is a hug worth? You can bet Oprah won Obama some votes for sure with that one. Maybe if he was a democrat....

    December 9, 2007 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  10. Kristy Sanborn, Dixon, Mo.

    my last posting was to be 'maybe if he was not a democrat.........

    December 9, 2007 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  11. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Now and then, when you see a candidate that offers much hope to reverse the flow of negativity, you want to join the movement to reverse the flow. I think this is what Oprah sees in Obama. Obama's gift is his ability to inspire people. People are like lights, dispersed energy. Now, if he can focus that energy and turn it into a laser to do effective work, that would be something. He is a catalyst. He inspire people with his energy. People in turn are inspired and inspire other people ... then it becomes a movement. Many people recognizes his gift and wants to join the movement to turn this country around ... and then be remembered to take part in this movement to turn this country around. Oprah is one of them. We are at a crossroad, and this is the moment.

    December 9, 2007 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  12. Dale, Albany, NY

    Story under the radar but shouldn't be since Barack Obama is a candidate for President of the United States

    The writer of the article below brings up points

    Is Oprah Supporting Racism in America?

    December 9, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  13. Jonnie NH

    It was great to see three generations of strong intelligent woman in IOWA Mrs. Clinton, her mother and daughter, We truly are in a momentous time, where a woman's potential has no limitations," "Hillary Clinton has already proven to a generation of women that there are no limits for success. She is driven by her passion for public service and her belief in the enormous potential of our country. Smart, capable and strong in her convictions, Hillary has transcended the dictates of what is thought to be possible for our time.
    "Hillary is a powerful voice for change as we find our country at an important crossroads. Under her leadership, our country will regain its respect within the global community. She will prioritize issues of global climate change, universal healthcare and rebuilding a strong economy. After 8 long years, the public will once again have faith in their government.
    "Another former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, 'In government, in business, and in the professions there may be a day when women will be looked upon as persons. We are, however, far from that day as yet.' More than 50 years later 'that day' is now upon us…and Hillary Clinton is ready to shatter through that glass ceiling for all women."

    OPRAH has put woman (her viewers) back 50 years! Shame on you Oprah!

    December 9, 2007 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  14. Jerome IOWA

    Was obama there? Appears it was the Oprah show live? and thats why we should vote for barrack? I DONT THINK SO..HAHA

    It is proven over and over in his short time as a senator that Obama doesn't have the nerve to take on tough issues, ducking votes on abortion and Iran!!! Seeking a trillion-dollar tax hike and raising the retirement age for Social Security!!!! He does not support health care for all children! PLAY ATTENTION IOWA AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY!
    Obama completely skipped the Senate vote on Iran. But throws mud at ALL the other senators doing their job. Take a look at his public tenure in the Illinois Legislature, where lawmakers can vote "present" (If you can believe that), instead of yes or no on a bill. Obama, votes “present" on SEVEN ABORTION MEASURES!!!! Unbelievable! WAKE UP IOWA! The President can't vote 'present.' Nor pick and choose which challenges he will face. This guy is not afraid to make ANY decisions. LOOK AT THE FACTS The world is watching you first! SHOW THAT YOUR ARE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE, Not Americans who can be dazzeled out of their vote for a TV talk show host!!!
    DO NOT WASTE YOUR VOTE ON OBAMA he cannot win in the general election. A vote for him is a vote for the Republican Party

    December 9, 2007 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  15. Robert, Tulsa OK

    Oprah = more people see him and hear his message = more Obama voters. But it's the shear size of these rallies that is going to help convince some on the fence that he's for real. When you look around at 30,000 people, it makes you think "hey, this guy CAN win. I'm not wasting a vote." That will help at caucus time.

    December 9, 2007 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  16. Regina Witfield NH

    Oprah, should be using her resourses to clean up the sex abuse at her " girls school" instead of playing politics, what schools has she opened in this country for poor girls?

    December 9, 2007 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  17. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    Oprah looked a bit nervous and she admitted that she was a bit out of her element. I have no problem with any endorsements of candidates from anyone, but it doesn't influence my vote.

    Unfortunately, I was not impressed with Senator Obama. I'm not impressed with any candidate that gets up and promises jobs for everyone, health care for everyone, college for everyone, etc. That is just talk.

    Half (more or less) of the people posting here could give that speech (we may have to get some speech lessons, but we could do it). That does not mean we are qualified to be President. What have we done that SHOWS that we are capable of handling the job?

    How many times have we seen a good talker give a really good job interview, but when they get on the job – you see that they really can't do the job?

    Just some thoughts. I'm an undecided voter, but I need to be sure that I vote for a person that has the ABILITY, not just the TALK.

    December 9, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  18. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Not a blind follower, I am thinking same way with you. Obama doesn't know the answer for US Senate Votes, he couldn't give us Yes or No, he is scared to be criticized by people, he is a real chicken and liar. Obama used wife, Michelle's help, it doesn't work, now using Oprah's talking power, I don't think American voters decide their minds by her talking, they care his political view, Obama failed his job as Senator and candidate, will never make a bigger job.

    December 9, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  19. Jay, ames iowa

    The oprah endorsement is repulsive. This is a low moment for american politics. Oprah believes that everyone is victim. Finally, Oprah endorsed Obama b/c he is black.

    December 9, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. anon, new york, NY

    Why did the chicken cross the road?

    We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

    Where's my gun?

    Did I miss one?

    Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

    Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

    Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

    December 9, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  21. J. McKinney SW MO

    I hope and pray that American voters are smart enough to vote for the person they think is the strongest, most knowledgable, capable candidate, in spite of the fact that a celebrity is for them. And I can't see any similarity between Obama having Oprah and Hillary having Bill–therefore both have "celebrities". Oprah will be no help to Obama if he becomes president. Bill is not a TV star, he is a very successful past president of the US. He will be there, since he is married to Hillary, to help with knowledgable advice, when she becomes president.
    I only hope and pray that people aren't led off the path of sensible decision, to vote for Obama. He is too weak, too inexperienced. We all HOPE, but that doesn't get anything done. We need someone who hopes, but also works on the problems. We need Hillary!!

    December 9, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    Where is my last comment at? I only said that I like the 'how many votes is a hug worth', and I would say Oprah won Obama some votes with showing her support of Obama. and if only he weren't a democrat...that must have been the reason my post didn't post, too many democrats moderating postings?

    December 9, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  23. tom, ny, ny


    December 9, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Peter Wilsion Iowa

    Oprah just a talk show host and should not impact the America politics that much and she can't.
    Obama is not capable enough to run alone, it is obvious.

    December 9, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. Deb, columbus, ohio

    I applaud Oprah's courage to get into-the-ring during this 08 Presidential campaign because she has nothing to lose.

    Carey B....It takes no courage to do something if you "have nothing to lose". It takes courage to do something where the outcome actually will affect you and your life. I'm not impressed with Oprah's endorsement. I honestly don't believe that it makes much difference who becomes president. Until the president and congress are willing to work together for the "good of the country", and not themselves, nothing will change. I do think that a Clinton/Obama ticket might be "not too bad". No one could be worse than what we've got right now, but will they really be that much better?

    December 9, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
1 2 3 4 5