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. Anita, Phoenix, Arizona

    Go Oprah. You are truly an inspiration to all. Barack – I wish you the best of luck!

    December 9, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Vegas Gurl

    We need a brown-skinned president to work with the majority brown-skinned people of the world who control the oil, etc. "Minorities" identify better with other "minorities." The "white" administration is who they are angry and frustrated with. Obama will have more of an impact on the world than any other president ever has if he is allowed to be president and is truly elected and the election is not rigged.

    December 9, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Concerned and responsible citizen

    It is refreshing to see that although Ms. Winfrey does not need the headache of getting envolved in politics, she understands the historical importance of doing so now. She is enourmously successful not because of just talking, but for bringing out the ills of society, looking for sulutions and actually putting her self in the line of fire just to have a positive impact and help reshape the future of this world. She could be another Jerry Springer if it was just for the money. But I guess nobody has anything to say about Springer because all he does is get rich and do nothing for no one else. Stop bashing Ms. Winfrey whose only mistake is caring to leave this world a better place than what she found when she was born. I admire her for the courage, tenacity and unshakable faith in the good in people.
    If she is willing to add to the millions of things that she already does the support for Senator Obama I say he must be a heck of a leader and most importantly a heck of a human being.

    Obama 08

    December 9, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. John, New York, NY

    You've got to be a mental midget to take ANY life advice from Oprah. She has the audacity to come out and act like it's about Barak Hussein's positions? Must be a coincidence that he's black and she's black. You people somehow buying into this sham should realize that it's all about race for Obama. That's why no one can criticize him or fat Oprah.

    Oprah should be hitting the the jogging trial and not stop until she loses a few of her chins.

    If anything, she should be endorsing Huckabee who can actually lose weight instead of blowing up into a blimp before your very eyes.

    December 9, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Tikara, Warsaw, Indiana

    It looks like you people are missing some points, Clinton and Obama are in huge crowds, with Celebrities to speak for them. While in the background Edwards is in both big and little cities talking one on one with the people of the state, not just to them en mass. People appreciate it more if canidates talk and more importantly listen to them. Yeah Clinton and Obama are the "It's time for a ________ president" canidates but I feel the primaries aren't going to be like the polls are showing at all.

    December 9, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Posted By anon, new york, NY : December 9, 2007 8:34 am

    Too funny man! HAHAHAHA!

    December 9, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. James Daniels, Raleigh North Carolina

    I don't think we need a Male President because men have messed up our country.
    We need a woman in office to clean up our mess so Mrs. Clinton may be our answer in the White House. I am a mid age Black Male and I believe a woman can get us back on track like big momma use to do when things went wrong.

    December 9, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. E.D.

    Ignorance is the mother of all evil. Most of the commentaries are obviously written by iliterate people whom would do best keep their stupid comments to them selves. All of you biggots (ignorants) should at least try to learn something new every day and apply them to your everyday life. Eventually if the people of good faith unity for the common good of all the world will be a world where everybody has a decent life and the respect that God has given each and every one of us.

    Pick up books, read them and make up your mind about who would be the best voice to represent the ones who need better affordable health care, who will not send our children to die for them to get even richer, who will create sensible policies to assist the ones with less education and money to own a house/car, to make sure that there will be social security after a whole life of work.
    Obama 08

    December 9, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. nina, ny, ny

    I never had any opinion of oprah. I was always nuetral about it. Now I am really turned off by this woman. She is really pathetic. She is shoving Obama in everyone's throat. I was undecided about who to vote. After is not going to be Obama at any cost.

    December 9, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. yoko, ny, ny

    think that people may be downplaying the importance of Oprah to the Obama campaign. It seems like political pundits are saying the effect will be minimal, but they are underestimating the power of Oprah. Like it or not Oprah turns anything she touches to gold. Obama may well be the next beneficiary and deservedly so.

    Posted By Brennan, Riverside IA : December 8, 2007 10:34 pm


    December 9, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. jerry .grand blanc,mi.

    Oprah for Vice President !!!!!

    December 9, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Dallas, CA

    How funny - I can hear Candy Crowley's voice in my head as I read this article. She has a very distinctive style. I wish CNN would use her more.

    I love you Candy!

    December 9, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Joy Kegle, Yuma AZ

    I haven't made up my mind yet whether it's Hillary or Obama, but with Oprah's endorsement of Obama, I'm definitely looking more at a Hillary vote. Oprah's support is a support for a black candidate, which I didn't think of Obama so much as a black candidate until now. Look at Oprah's history, ie: building a school for black's in Afric. What has she done for poor kids in this country???

    December 9, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Eric - Swansea, MA

    What is wrong with you people? For those Hillary Clinton supporters saying that Obama bringing Oprah out is him trying to cover up his inadequacies, what then do you say when Hillary brings Bill Clinton to campaign for her in Iowa, the state which she seems to be in serious trouble to not win there? Some of you who are for other candidates need to get off of your high horses and pretend as if Obama is the only candidate with a celebrity endorsement. He cannot help if the media is taking this and running with it – he should in fact be thrilled because it is getting his campaign more attention and will give him a CHANCE to win over more Americans.

    December 9, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Get over it people. Oprah can endorse anyone she wants, she's not running for president. Further, there isn't a candidate that would not have welcomed Oprah's endorsement whether republican or democrat. Or better yet try asking them.

    December 9, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. La'Kitgum, NH

    Obama campain adding Oprah so soon, clearly points out his inability to stand on his own and convince America that he is the one and points out his inexperience which is the reason any pragmatic person whould see he is not qualififed.

    This is the worst in our political system when a candidate brings on the super rich to essentially buy votes and cover his inadequacies. The shallowness and meaninglessness of celebrities in politics is just offensive to the American people.

    It is an insult to suggest we are foolish enough to select a candidate based on the endorsement of a mega rich celebrity who is saturated in her own belief of her sense of self importance. Winfrey’s money and fame will not solve the problems facing America. However, she is to self indulged to realize that. It’s very sad what they are trying to pull over on the American people. Just ask yourself why isn’t Obama enough?

    December 9, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. fred,derry,NH

    This is a remarkable development.

    Obama has got himself the biggest superstar in America, an astute, wealthy, and amazingly popular woman. She doesn't just sell glamor, she sells books and ideas.

    Maybe he has a chance. He's head and shoulders above most of the candidates in both parties. Hillary is beginning to look like an ethical pygmy.

    Obama could actually work some change in the behavior of what has been a disgusting American government for seven years.

    It wouldn't be a huge change, power in America is distributed too widely, but it would be genuine change. Will vote for him any day.....

    December 9, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. Andy, New York, New York

    Obama is as genuine as they come. And whe Oprah, the nation's number one media sales person, backing him, the sky is the limit. I really don't see Obama winning, though, because America is not ready for a Black, or even a woman as president. The terrorists have made it harder for White America to trust any other color or gender in the White House. America needs a strong male who has balls and guts to stand up to the terrorists and wannabe communists seeking to make a come back. Huckabee? Giuliani?

    December 9, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. xtina - chicago il

    I see the words "fawning" and "crazy" and "wild"; that sounds like a Deepak Chopra seminar , not a serious discussion of Presidential qualifications. But Obama hasn't lowered crime over 50 percent the way Mayor Guiliani did; or cut taxes for all people and save a bankrupt organization the way Gov. Romney did, so I guess all he has to go on is the emotion.

    I notice Oprama doesn't speak of personal responsibility, instead it's "don't worry you 'll be successful without hard work because we're going to tax successful people and just give you the financial rewards." Sounds like socialism is creeping into the country.

    December 9, 2007 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  20. J. McKinney SW MO

    I am eager to see some new polls after this "Oprah horse & pony show" and see if there are as many weak minds and easily led people as I am afraid there are. I hope people can see this for what it is, and that Hillary will be in the lead.

    December 9, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. Jessica M., El Paso, TX

    Doesn't Oprah vote Republican? I mean when she does vote. I remember her giving Condi and Bush a platform on her show so they could promote the war with Irag. I remember her giving Bush a platform to get elected. She sure was useful getting that Democratic governor out of California. Hmmmm...that's interesting. Hasn't Obama repeatedly used right-winged talking points to attack his opponents? Regurgitating that social security was in a "crisis", right out of a Rovian playbook. (In fact, didn't Rove write some sort of memo, one that would help Obama in the primaries?) He does keep using Republican talking points on the universal health care issue as well(See Paul Krugman's new column in the NY
    Times). Wait, wasn't Lieberman Obama's mentor? Didn't he stump for him and not Ned Lamont? I am beginning to see what kind of president Obama would be. He never did take a firm stand on issues of abortion. Could it be that he was pandering to a "certain group". Interesting how REPUBLICANS LOVE HIM and only attack Hillary. Now I understand what he means when he says "a new kind of politics".

    I read in another post that FDR was one the most divisive and partisan presidents in recent memory. I remember a history professor of mine saying that he basically had to arm handle the Supreme Court be get plans such as welfare and social security passed, progressive issues that are essential to the Democratic party (Although I don't remember why the S.C. was involved).

    That's what it takes to get things done. It takes someone who takes a stand and has a fundamental system of ideas, a firm grasp on their convictions, and knows what he or she is fighting for, to actually implement change. Fighting for simply just "change" is empty when you don't know in what direction you want to take that change. After watching this election cycle closely, I have become CONVINCED that Obama is running for president simply because he wants to be president, not because of any convictions. He does not firmly and feverishly believe in anything, he's said it himself, he's not an "ideologue". He never takes stands on important issues. He will pander to the media, to progressives, to republicans, to the middle, to women, to whomever he has to in order to get into the White House. And you might say that other candidates do it as well, and you're right, to a certain extent, politicians somewhat do that. But there is a fundamental difference, other candidates have firm stances on issues and records to back up their claims. I will use Hillary as an example. Whether you agree with her or not, no one can question whether she really believes in health care reform because she has been one of the most out spoken people in regards to this issue, both when she was in the White House, and when she was first lady of Arkansas ( she also has passed legislation on this issue). No one can question whether she is pro-choice because, time and time again, she has voted for pro-choice legislation. But it saddens me to say that, whether Obama or Republicans get into the White House, it will the progressive Democrats, the same people who are helping to put Obama in the White House, the ones that will be the most affected.

    And the worst part is, they can even see it.

    December 9, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  22. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    J.McKinney SW MO, it is so true, Oprah can't help Obama, she just want black power. Bill Clinton is a great politician and President. Hillary is our hope and Country's hope too. The Clinton's know how to work on the problem, we need Hillary. I hope people vote the right candidate for our Country. White House is not for job training place.

    December 9, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  23. Mark, Chicago, IL

    The double "oo" means "oops". Oprah is embarassing herself as is Obama.

    December 9, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  24. jessica,miami,florida

    I wonder if Oprah knew that Obama's voting record as a US Senator was terrible...and when he was actually there, he voted for safety.."present but not YES or NO" that was his final answer. In addition, Obama's an attendant at Trinity Church of Christ which has a Black Value If Oprah and all of you Obama's supporters are aware of these facts and still believe that he should win the presidency...then I can only conclude that you all just want a BLACK president....NOT a GREAT president.

    December 10, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. moijetaime

    We will be seeing more of Oprah "in the ring". Her "endorsement" of Obama is her foot on the first step of her own political ambitions. How much of the media does she control? How useful would that be for a would-be politician?
    Last query: How different is she than Hillary in finding her way to "the ring" via a male candidate?

    December 10, 2007 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
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