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Sweet column: Oprah's splashy $3 million fund-raiser for Obama. "Nobody can stand in the way of destiny."

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MONTECITO, CALIF. — Oprah Winfrey opened the high iron gates of her highly guarded estate here Saturday to raise more than $3 million for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), his biggest single-day haul ever, in a fund-raising spectacle rarely seen in U.S. politics.

“I haven’t been actively engaged before because there hasn’t been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” a source said Winfrey told the crowd just before the concert, starring Stevie Wonder.

Introducing Obama, Winfrey said that “nobody can stand in the way of destiny.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as the Great Gatsby party scene unfolded before him on Winfrey’s meadow under a gorgeous sky.

Real celebrities mingled with Obama’s best donors and bundlers rewarded for their fund-raising efforts with a star-studded afternoon. Among those present at the event featuring the two most famous Chicagoans in the world: actors Lou Gossett Jr.; Cicely Tyson; Forest Whitaker; Ellen Pompeo; Sidney Poitier; Linda Evans; Tyler Perry; Chris Rock; Hill Harper (who attended Harvard Law with Obama); music producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds; Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, football quarterback Rodney Peete; Winfrey beau Stedman Graham; radio personality Tom Joyner; sports legends Ernie Banks, Bill Russell and Dave Winfield; tennis great Jimmy Connors, and model Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber.

There was a contingent from Obama’s Chicago-based kitchen cabinet, including Habitat honcho Valerie Jarrett and John Rogers, the Illinois finance co-chair.

The most important VIPs got to drive right up to the mansion, with most of the estimated 1,500 attendees who either gave or raised $2,300 shuttled by bus to Winfrey’s from the Earl Warren Showgrounds eight miles away in Santa Barbara.

At 3 p.m., there was Oprah/Obama gridlock on the Highway 101 Las Positas off-ramp leading to the staging area. Two women wearing leis waiting in the traffic jam said they flew in from Hawaii for the event. Judge Greg Mathis, who presides over the “Judge Mathis” show taped in Chicago, was in line, idling in his convertible Mercedes SL500.

Security was tight. The event was closed to the press. At the showgrounds, people dressed out of the pages of Vogue and GQ, despite the admonition to wear “garden attire,” were delivered in limos and sharp cars. Everyone had to give up cameras as they went through security. A reporter trying to interview people on the showgrounds was threatened with arrest.

Inside the fund-raiser, there were separate levels of access, depending on how much money people were raising for Obama, with the most prolific bundlers staying for a dinner.

Food stations offered mini-burgers, corn-on-the-cob on sticks, guacamole and chips; lemonade and vodka; red or white wine, and a full bar.

The Obama campaign’s regional professional fund-raisers brought their best contributors, with the high-rollers bunking at the spectacular Fess Parker resort in Santa Barbara.

Making the entire experience pleasurable for Obama’s best donors; Oprah, Obama and wife Michelle were posing for individual pictures, according to a person at the party.

As the evening wore down a stream of tired-looking but exceedingly well-dressed people, some carrying green souvenir blankets, poured past the wooden doors of Winfrey’s yard, leaving the home she calls “the Promised Land” to board buses to take them back to reality.

(Courtesy image)

8 Comments

It's amazing that someone like Oprah hasn't found a candidate to be enganged in after all these years. It begs the question is it race that is what's engaging her. Does it take a black man towing the Democratic party line to engage her. Mr. Obama is no different in his rhetoric than most politicians running for President. Alan Keys was a fine man of color, but unforunately was a Republican. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson too devisive and controversial. Obama is Vanilla, nearly socialist and - so far- without controversy. It's ironic too, that some of his ancestors were slave holders and never slaves. Had his skin been white I doubt if he'd have Oprah's support.

Hey Lynn. Is it true that Obama promised the Clinton's that if they supported his Senate run that he would not run against her for president? Is it also true that people in the power circle are beomming increasingly unhappy with not just his attacks on Hillary, but also Bill (cause he is their only bright spot since Roosevelt)? But they are REALLY ticked off with him riduculing Democrats in Congress (especially the Senate)? I'm reading postings on the net (no not Hillary's) from different people not just one posting. Any truth to any of this or is it just rumors?

Some people just can't stand the ideal of a black man becoming president of the United States regardless of his skin tone, political affiliation or ideology. Wake up. This is 2007 not 1955.

Well, before he decided to run for president he came to Austin, Texas. And all I can say is, there were young,old,white,black,hispanic,green,purple,long haired,short haired,grey haired, tall, short, skinny and fat people; just plain people it was the most polite gathering of socially,economically and culturally diverse people I have ever gathered with in a long time. The talk aftwerwards was people felt a cleansing, a fresh sense, a hope for a new beginning in America. So I can say regardless of Oprah or any other celebrity if you have a chance to see Obama go feel the cleanse for yourself and make your choice from your heart.

Oprah Winfrey is among the most effective samples of being born into humble circumstances and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps and happening to become one of the most confident, powerful, and successful persons in the world.

some truly interesting information, well written and broadly speaking user friendly .

I would be honest with your employer from the start. do not wait for them to run a credit check but tell them that you have a poor credit rating and that you hope to remedy it through working hard and paying some of your debts off. If they are the sort of people that one would want to work for and have a good relationship with their employees then this would probably do the trick.

Couldnt have said it better my self! Thank you.

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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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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 9, 2007 1:59 AM.

Sweet Oprah Day blog special: Obama urges Santa Barbara crowd "let's go change the world." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Post Oprah/Obama fund-raiser afterparties. A masseuse in a Zen garden. is the next entry in this blog.

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