Skip to comments.Oprah packs the house, but can she deliver the votes?
Posted on 12/08/2007 7:29:04 PM PST by Graybeard58
DES MOINES, Iowa Television star Oprah Winfrey, an influential voice in American popular culture and one of the most successful blacks in the world, urged Iowans on Saturday to use their first-voting status to give Barack Obama the momentum to overtake Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I'm here to tell you, Iowa, he is the one," the billionaire, philanthropist and top-rated talk-show host told a crowd estimated at more than 15,000 who navigated snow-crusted roads to see her stump for the Illinois senator at Hy-Vee Hall in Iowa's capital city.
Without naming Clinton, Winfrey argued that Obama's community activist background is more valuable than the former first lady's more extensive Washington experience and that he could better unite the nation. Obama, she said, has a "new vision" for the country.
Since the 1980s, Winfrey's endorsements have sold millions of books, created the likes of Dr. Phil, integrated black culture into swaths of white America and brought instant credibility to various causes and charities. Her appearances for Obama, the first presidential candidate she's campaigned for, will test whether the "Oprah effect" extends to American politics.
"I understand the difference between the book club . . . and this critical moment in our nation's history," she said. "I am not here to tell you what to think. I am here to ask you to think seriously about a man who knows who we are and who we can be."
Obama looked star-struck as he told the crowd how much he loved and appreciated her.
"You want Oprah as vice president?" he asked, and the crowd cheered. "That would be a demotion, you understand that." He then delivered a standard stump speech, talking about his desire to end the Iraq war, expand health care and college affordability and shared his biography.
He also sought to frame his candidacy in the context of Winfrey's ability to succeed against the odds for most blacks. "My presence here today is unlikely just like Oprah is unlikely," he said. "We share that in common."
The mixed-race, heavily female audience began arriving two hours before the mid-afternoon event. The mood was raucous and festive, the lines to get into the standing-room-only hall grew longer and the crowd fed off its own energy.
The attendees were a mixed bag. Some were committed Obama supporters. Others were primarily Winfrey fans.
"I love Oprah, she's like my role model," said Adrienne Williams, 31, who said she's trying to decide between Clinton and Obama. She said that Winfrey's opinion could influence her vote.
But Kay Bolton, 68, who slipped out a few minutes into Obama's remarks, admitted that she's already a committed Clinton voter and said that hadn't changed. "We respect Obama, but we're here to see Oprah," she said. "She should run for president herself."
Then there was Liz Ward, a middle-aged businesswoman who said, "I'm a Republican and I'm not even a huge Oprah fan. It's just the place to be." Ward said she probably wouldn't have come to an Obama appearance otherwise, but that she was "open" to voting for him. "None of the Republican candidates do anything for me."
Des Moines was the first of Winfrey's four planned stops with Obama on a two-day blitz that was to continue to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then to the early voting states of South Carolina and New Hampshire.
In South Carolina, where black voters comprise half the Democratic electorate, the Obama campaign changed the venue for Sunday's planned appearance in Columbia from an 18,000-seat arena to an 80,000-seat stadium to accommodate the anticipated crowds.
Experts, however, say that most celebrity endorsements have little impact, especially in caucus states such as Iowa, where only the most dedicated voters participate.
But if former president Bill Clinton is his wife's most powerful endorsement, Winfrey may be Obama's best answer.
David Redlawsk, a University of Iowa political scientist, said that Winfrey already has generated free publicity for Obama and could bring into the loop Winfrey fans who haven't focused on the election.
But Redlawsk was dubious of her impact on Jan. 3. "It's not clear that any of that matters when it comes down to getting people out on a cold winter's night to caucus," he said.
He predicted a greater effect in South Carolina because it holds a primary election rather than a caucus and because Winfrey may be poised to convince more black voters Obama is electable.
Obama, 46, a first-term Illinois senator and the first black candidate to compete this strongly for president, has been holding second place in national polls behind Clinton, but in recent polls the gap between them has narrowed.
Obama, however, is still struggling to convince many fellow blacks that he could win a general election and to woo older Democratic women who gravitate to Clinton.
Winfrey, 53, has had the nation's No. 1 talk show for 21 consecutive seasons. It reaches 46 million unique viewers each week, according to CBS Television Distribution. Many share traits of Clinton fans: three-fourths are women, more than half are over 50, and viewers' median income is $46,000.
Winfrey's talk show is the No. 2 syndicated program among adult women in Iowa, behind "Wheel of Fortune", and the No. 1 syndicated show among women in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
“and one of the most successful blacks in the world”
Anyone else notice that the most successful blacks in the world live in the U.S.?
Do you have a link?
She will deliver her 8 million brain dead female viewers to the alter of Obama
Say what you will, but I think Oprah looks like a Bullfrog!
She would have packed the house even if she was the only one there. :)
She is trying her best to Balkanize the United States along racial lines.
Scary to see these three bozo’s even get this far in politics.
They're all hoping she rewards the audience with new cars! Hmm.
She is going to be very bitter and very difficult to deal with when her boy loses.
Michelle and The Oprah look terrified.
It's starting to look like he may beat "the beast" in the primaries. He nor the beast will ever win the general. I am becoming more confident of that every day.
“Wheel of Fortune”
All the gays love opera, she’ll deliver them!
Dammit Vanna, enough with the suspense! Who are you throwing in with?
Before this is over both the halfrican and the simple billionaire will be crucified at the altar of the Arkansas mafia.
LOL! Oprah aint going to be second fiddle to anyone!
Oprah is just another celebrity leftist, willing to sell her soul to an empty suit.
Who knows how many but one thing for sure is it will be more than Barbra and Chelsea deliver for Hillary.
That being said, who had the right to vote when the founding fathers set up the US?
Small wonder why the USA wil be destroyed from within.
I’m not surprised by anything anymore.
America is definitely ready for a black president or a female president. But they would prefer a black male president to a white female. And mark my words, the first black president will be a conservative. Americans are not going to climb on board the bandwagon of a liberal black. They would be uncomfortable with all the liberal racial baggage a liberal black would bring to the White House.
I think Americans would elect Colin Powell (let us say) in a heartbeat. Please don’t take that to mean that I think in any way that Colin Powell is conservative enough to be president, just that I believe America would elect him in the vastly unlikely event that he were to run. It is only an example of my contention that race will have nothing to do with Obama’s eventual defeat, just liberalism.
The more Obama is identified with Oprah (the entertainment and the religion), the less presidentiable he looks. His campaign is starting to look like an Oprah book tour and seminar...
Obama: " "My presence here today is unlikely just like Oprah is unlikely. We share that in common."
Oprah:"(What are you talking about, Willis?)"
Me either. I can still be disgusted but not surprised,.
Oprah can’t deliver the votes in a National Election but in Iowa and maybe New Hampshire she can help sink Hillary for the short term.
Oprah doesn’t normally get involved in politics to this extent and I think it will have a far greater impact than most people think .
It will definately benefit Barry O , and it might be the factor that pushes Barry O to the top. This is the worst possible development for Hillary , as Oprah will peel off a great number of crucial female voters from Hillary .
Now the question is , do we want to face Obama or Hillary in the general ? Who would be easier to beat ....
Let’s not underestimate the Oprah factor ....i’m not ...
Obama is Oprah’s “boy.” This endorsement has nothing to do with qualifications...it’s strictly race motivated.
Edith Keeler In Iowa.
Anything to make the Beast not walk away with the nomination is fine with me. Obama is an empty suit so I’d much rather run against him than the Clinton machine.
LOL! As a mater of fact ... LOL!
He would be far harder to demonize .....Maybe we don’t want to have to face him ..... Everyone knows Hillary is evil , but Barry O could and would play the race card , which is far worse than the chauvinist card ....
This is fantastic.... Obama or Hillary.... Man 2008 is looking great....
Those two will be so easy to beat...... life is good.
Don’t know about Vanna but Pat is definitely on the right side.
What a ridiculous thing to say.
I watched a portion of the rambling performance by Barak Hussein Obama. It would be very tough to call it a speech. It sort of sounded like they took a page from John Edwards pity the poor take from the rich playbook. My main interest in watching was to estimate what kind of turnout they had. Unfortunately I found myself distracted trying to decide who had a bigger ass Oprah or Michelle. Both nearly blocked out the whole crowd. How many brainwashed white women watch queen Oprah anyway.
Forgive my very un-PC observation, but this is simply a case of one black supporting another. Yes, Oprah has a very large audience but even most of her viewers aren’t so imbecilic that they’d follow her political propaganda - not because they’re intelligent and astute observers of the political scene - but because most of them just want to be entertained without having to think too much about anything very seriously for a couple of hours.
Ever seen her without her makeup? Yeesh!
I read someplace that it takes a 15-person team to do her hair and makeup for each show taping.
I really have no opinion about Oprah, other than an ‘I find her annoying because she just won’t go away’ type of thing.
What I would like to know is, has she done this kind of campaigning in the past for any white candidates, or is she a racist?
Oprah is to be congratulated on the realization that Hillary is not fit for office.
On the other hand, considering her choice of characters to run her schools in Africa, I don’t think her personal evaluation skills are good enough to serve as a beacon for others in voting for ANY candidate.
Aside from the fact that Obama is black, she is black, he is a liberal Dem and so is Oprah, what relevation about Obama has she released?
I can’t stand these entertainment figured going around endorsing candidates for office and expecting rational thinking people to accept their assessments.
If I wanted advice on how to run a successful TV show with spin-off businesses, I might consult Oprah. If I wanted to select the next President of the United States, I would look at the candidate’s experience, character and position on the issues, and that would rule out ALL the Democrats.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. He just might be splitting the votes so neither can win. He is the great Orchestrator, after all.
I don’t think Oprah is a racist , but she is inserting herself into this campaign to make sure that Barry O isn’t discounted because of his race .
Oprah is smart enough to know that any racist attacks will indeed be clandestinely originated from Hillary , and Oprah is going to do her part to make sure that Barry O has a fighting chance.
This is actually shaping up to be Oprah vs. Hillary ....The results will be quite telling as to which woman really wields the power stick ....
What happened to representing Illinois, Senator?
Hillary’s in trouble. I don’t think it matters much what Oprah thinks, but she’s helping Obama dominate several days of an important news cycle with positive stories. Seems like the more Dems pay attention to Obama the better he does.
I don’t think Hillary’s cunning and dirty tricks are enough to overcome the fact that he’s a likable guy and she’s the wicked witch of the east. Or that he’s smarter than her (top of the class at Harvard Law, professor of Constitutional Law... versus some lady who tied the knot with the right guy). She’s a known quantity with nowhere to go in the polls but down. He’s still rising. We’re gonna have trouble winning independents if he’s their nom...