Time Magazine: Why Oprah Won’t Help Obama

This was quite an interesting story from Time Magazine and in many respects, it makes sense:

To win the Democratic nomination for President, Barack Obama still needs the same thing he has needed all along — for voters to see him as ready to be commander in chief by January 2009. So now the question is: Will appearing at weekend campaign rallies with Oprah Winfrey help him achieve that goal?

Mark me down as more than a bit skeptical.

Winfrey’s endorsement — and her announcement that she will appear with Obama at campaign events in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire on December 8 and 9 — helps bring the following four things to Obama: campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.

The four things that Obama has on his own in great abundance — without Winfrey’s help — are campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.

That’s an excellent point, Obama is not short of crowds or cash, he’s just short of legitimate voters. Oprah has already raked in millions for him, does her image and endorsement actually lend enough to turn voters away from Clinton or Edwards?

Time eventually concludes:

So yes, expect loud, rousing rallies in all three early voting states when Oprah Winfrey comes to town with her friend Barack Obama in early December, with gobs of media attention, raucous crowds, emotion and great pictures. But don’t expect those events to do anything productive to allow Obama to get over the biggest hurdle standing between him and the White House. American voters are not looking for a celebrity or talk show sidekick to lead them. Obama is an intelligent and thoughtful potential President, but Winfrey’s imprimatur is unlikely to convey those traits to many undecided voters.

In that respect, Winfrey’s events might even be — dare it be said — counterproductive.

Will Oprah’s endorsement and subsequent campaigning simply perpetuate the accusation that Obama is nothing more than the flashy Hollywood candidate with all looks and no substance? Polls will tell after the events. Iowa is very close right now that it could serve his interests since Oprah is the mother-of-all celebrity endorsements.

In the context of this Time article, Hillary could use the Oprah endorsement to her advantage.

  • Michael Jerryson

    Oprah has never endorsed a candidate in this way, so I think it might too quick to judge the impact she’ll have on Barack Obama’s candidacy.

    She is an important icon in the African American and Women’s communities, and these are two areas in which Hillary and Barack are vying for support. I think the Time’s article, while plausible, is leaping to some conclusions at this point.

  • Well, she endorsed him months ago and has been fund raising for him. Whether actually being out on the campaign trail will make a difference, I don’t know but she’s already been attaching her name to his. She’ll probably sway some voters for him and turn some against him, celebrity type endorsements tend to do that. However, I’ll concede Oprah is not a “typical” celebrity in that she has followers and supporters of all stripes.