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Sweet column: Obama backer Oprah has not voted in a presidential primary since at least 1988.


WASHINGTON -- The values-driven Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential women in the United States by virtue of her wealth and moral authority, is an example of what Barack Obama's presidential campaign is trying to do: transform people who have not participated in presidential politics into believers jazzed up about being part of the process.

If Winfrey, who will host a fund-raiser for Obama on Saturday on the grounds of her Santa Barbara mansion, votes for Obama in the February Illinois Democratic primary, it will be the first time she cast a ballot in a presidential primary since at least 1988, according to her voting record on file with the Chicago Board of Elections.

Winfrey has an active general election voting record; however, she has skipped Illinois primaries except for 1994 and 2002. "Ms. Winfrey has voted in every presidential general election," said Winfrey spokesman Angela DePaul.

A Near North Side resident, Winfrey has not voted in Chicago mayoral elections and in 2004 did not help Obama win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

» Click to enlarge image Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in 2005.
(George Burns/Harpo)
But she is more than making up for it by lending her considerable support to Obama's White House bid. Until now, Winfrey has never lent her brand and influence to a candidate in a public way. The Obama campaign wish list has her stumping for him and making ads, but nothing has been confirmed.
Between 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Winfrey is opening her estate in Montecito -- near Santa Barbara -- for an Obama fund-raiser. Stevie Wonder and a host of Hollywood celebs are expected to attend.

In a memo sent out by Obama finance chairwoman Julianna Smoot, guests are told to wear garden attire and comfortable shoes for walking along the "meadow," a polite way to say the party is NOT in the house.

Attendees will check in at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, 8 miles from Winfrey's place. There will be valet parkers and a shuttle bus.

Because the event is sold out, the word among some in the West Coast donor community was that only new donors would be allowed to attend, not people who have already donated the federal maximum of $2,300 for the primary contest. There are plenty of exceptions, however.

There is a large contingent from Chicago coming out, led by Penny Pritzker, the real estate mogul who is Obama's national finance chief. Habitat Co. honcho Valerie Jarrett, a charter member of Obama's kitchen Cabinet and a close friend, will be there, as well as Obama pal Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard, who traveled to Kenya with Obama last year. Mayor Daley's daughter Nora Daley Conroy and her husband, Sean, will be strolling on the Winfrey acreage, as well as former Illinois Lottery chief Desiree Rogers; Ariel Capital Management founder and Illinois Obama finance co-chairman John Rogers and Mellody Hobson, Ariel's president, who moonlights as an ABC News contributing editor, and Johnathan Rodgers, the president of TV One, and his wife, Royal.

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The blacks support the blacks, it's as predicatable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. I simply don't understand the fascination with "Ahpra" Winfrey's endorsement of Barry Obama. What did people expect?

More to the point, why would anyone care since the probability of Obama being selected to serve as Commander in Chief during time of war is completely and totally out of the question.

The sad truth is that the only reason that anyone is even considering Obama is because he is black. If he were a white person saying the same things with the same credentials, no one would be paying any attention to him at all. Voting for someone simply because they are black, is just as stupid as NOT voting for them based on skin color. Obama is all style, no substance.

This election will not be about which candidate will be the best choice for America, but will be a white vs black dialog. Sadly the Blacks will vote for obama because he is black period. Unforgiven Oprah's comment a couple months ago about white kids in her private school she set up. Although, I forgot that she
was deprived as a kid and uses the same black attitude of slavery to pass her views on. And they say white people are racist.

From the clip I saw on MSNBC news today, Michelle better keep an eye on the two of them. Too much emotion in the eyes

She would be better off registering in her permanent home of California. Illinois is the only state Obama is going to win. Like the polls for Douglas Wilder in Virginia and for Harold Ford in Tenn they are inflated in Iowa and NH (and he isn't ahead in either of them) so you can take as much as 5-10% off of them. That puts him in third. Even Oprah’s 8+ million viewers are going to help Obama overcome his lack of experience and no real test in a statewide election, much less a national one. Obama is done. It doesn't matter how much money Hollywood and the corrupt pols in Chicago raise for him, the Democratic constituents have seen through the marketing campaign and found a smart, ambitious, but flawed and inexperienced vessel of a candidate. No one wants to replace the corrupt and incompetent politics practiced in Washington with the more corrupt and incompetent politics practiced in Chicago, Cook County, and the State of IL.

Well, well. The two biggest O's in America have teamed up together.
I guess the new way to spell uh-oh is O-O.

O & O could also be read as a very similar two big zeros.

All flash and no substance. They deserve each other.

Oprah is to Obama, as Sinatra was to JFK...but not quite the same as Sinatra was to Reagan.

Oprah is to Obama, as Sinatra was to JFK...but not quite the same as Sinatra was to Reagan.

So what?

Thanks to the internet I discovered that Obama is a black man. Man that is just to bad because, well he seemed to me to be just about the most exciting thing that's happened in Politics in years. Let's see, the last two times we elected a white fool and soon discovered that he was only qualified to cut firewood.
You know I'm going to overlook some of the junk I see on the web and make up my own mind. I hate to tell you people but Obama is way up on my list and the more first time voters we get registered the better his chance are.

If Oprah had endorsed Mrs Clinton, it would be the biggest news in ages, but she supports barack so she need to be demonized. She did it solely because he was black or bi-racial. What NON-SENSE.

Obama is where he is because of his hard work despite his name. Mrs Clinton would not be were she is if it were not for her last name. Mrs Pelosi would do as good a job, if not better, afterall she has more experience.

Oprah is fine. But, yes he is half black. Don't care about his race either. But, from a Illinois State Senator, to U.S. Senator for 2.5 years. Come on. He doesn't have the experience. Obama, claims that his inexperience doesn't qualify him, (sure), but his views will be different in Washington. Please, Obama get some experience as a U.S. Senator. Then, maybe i will consider in voting for you. I don't care about your color. If you go on Hillary's ticket, then I am voting for Fred Thompson.

Oprah, register and vote. Your fame is excellent, but it will not change my mind when i go behind the voting booth.

How dare you guys say that I would vote for Obama because "blacks only support blacks". I don't know who I will vote for, I really like John Edwards (I'm black, by the way). I don't see anyone saying you voted for (insert past president name) because he is white; or is that the real reason why you voted?

I remember 15 years ago when I was searching for a pre-school for my son and I remember actively searching for a school that was not ALL white or not ALL black. I wanted a real mixture of students (cultures, etc.), one that mimicked the world. I was never brought up to think only "stick with blacks". I see others on here were brought up differently.

I was brought up to be respectful to everyone whether they were the garbage man or the CEO.

I found that preschool, by the way. The focus was on the kids, not color. Now if only the country would adopt that same attitude.

It is amazing how people have not criticized Steven Spielberg for supporting Hillary Clinton. After all, he has thrown lavish fundraiser's for her. Is the lack of criticism against them justified because both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Spielberg are white? Do you think Mr. Spielberg support is racial? I think not. I question his motives as racial in jest and to prove my point. My belief is he really sees in Mrs. Clinton as an ideal candidate. Just as I sense that Ms. Winfrey's support of Mr. Obama is based on those same core beliefs. I think that people here disapprove of a black person supporting another black person because both Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Obama are two successful African Americans. In this day and age why is this? Some even suggest her support is racial. This is nefarious. In my own prism I see a friend of 12 years supporting her friend. My sense is that among the people who disapprove of Ms. Winfrey's support for Mr. Obama that there is a double standard and yes it is a racial issue, a racial issue that these critics suffer from. How unfortunate.

I'm sure Oprah is politically savvy enough to hold Obama to his promises as a condition of her support.

I’m sure Oprah also must know no president will be able to make significant changes until they mobilize the voters to get the donations out of elections. If we don’t do that, the special interests will continue to control the Congress so any president who tries to do get the Congress to do something for the people will be attacked from all sides and fail.

It seems the voters have expected our government by the people to run itself the last couple of decades. Of course the media and their paid “experts” have done a superb job distracting the public from the key, important issues to the not-so-key issues as special interests bought all the seats in Congress and took over.

It is a disgrace that most of the representatives we have in Congress making loopy laws are followers of special interests and professional fundraisers---not true leaders who deliver substantial results on such basics as education, healthcare, border security, etc. No, for now, the hard-earned taxpayer money in the treasury goes for earmarks for a few and now an unnecessary war-- not the American public.(Oh, every now and then they throw the public a bone, to keep them happy, like a little tax break or minimum wage increase)

Here’s hoping Obama and Oprah will mobilize the public to have publicly-funded state and federal elections because this is the root of all other problems. With publicly funded elections, each candidate will have the same amount of money. Then we’ll have real choices and fewer incompetents or traitors will get into the Congress or be reelected. It will be nice when seats in Congress are earned by the best and brightest rather than the biggest sell-outs.

I, too, am inclined to like and trust Obama. If Obama is as honorable as he seems, he may just turn this democracy around, put the rest of our politicians to shame, and establish himself as the greatest leader since the founding of this country. His ability and willingness to clearly and concisely discuss the problems in government has already cast a light into the sea of political darkness the US government has become.

Meghan Ross

Ms. Sweet puts posts like this on the website to stimulate discussion. Postings like this one generally do just that. My problem with Obama and Oprah is the same one I have with most of the Democratic candidates; whomever Hollywood endorses is probably not the candidate for mainstream America. I could care less what the race of either of them is. All of the glitzy showbiz endorsements take away from the substance of the candidates. Obama, except for the money, would be better off telling Oprah and the rest of Hollywood to support him quietly and with their checkbooks. There are a lot of us that don't dwell in the fantasy world of showbiz. Therefore, we don't want a president from fantasyland. Bill Clinton was enough. We don't need Hollywood and the entertainment industry selecting our government leaders. If you reread the postings here, you will be able to see quite amply how celebrity involvement detracts from issues and fact.

well I really don't care who Mr. Spielberg votes for or who he supports. I do feel, Opra has the White House in mind when she supports and votes for Obama. In my opinion , she feels sleeping in Lincoln's bedroom ,is the crown of her achievement for the woman who has everything.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 7, 2007 9:05 AM.

Sweet blog extra: Obama snares Federico Pena endorsement. Former Clinton administration cabinet member. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column extra: Celeb prep for Oprah's fund-raiser for Obama. That is, if I get to see any.... is the next entry in this blog.

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