If Oprah recommends a book, it becomes a bestseller. But does her Midas touch extend to people? It’s a question that will soon be met with an answer after she endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over the weekend, joining him on the campaign trail in the important early-voting states of South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Oprah, who said she was “out of my pew”, cast her vote for Obama, anti-politician. Her Iowa speech in favour of Obama’s fresh approach was, unusually for the media professional, “slightly nervous” and “surprisingly passionate”, says Barron YoungSmith in Slate.

“We need a new way of doing business in Washington, DC, and in the world,” Winfrey said. “You know, I am so tired. I’m tired of politics as usual. That’s why you seldom see politicians on my show — because I only have an hour.”

Despite pimping everything from cars to fridges on her show, it’s the first time Oprah has backed a political candidate. To the whoops and screams of the sell-out crowd of 29,000 in Columbia, South Carolina, she introduced her “favourite senator” with the words: “It’s Obama time”.

If Oprah’s your warm-up act, you’re in with a chance. And Hillary’s looking shakier still after the weekend, as Obama draws neck and neck with her in the early-voting state polls. She had to cede the news cycle to the Oprah-Obama team and the crowd responded enthusiastically when Winfrey alluded to Obama’s opposition, reports The Washington Post. The rally in Columbia had originally been scheduled for a convention hall with a capacity of 18,000 but was later moved to the University of South Carolina football stadium to accommodate the masses, notes the Chicago Tribune.

Watch the weekend’s videos at Obama‘s website.

Barack Obama’s pitch to the Democrats of South Carolina, “the third and most devout presidential primary state” was “suffused with Christian – and at times messianic – rhetoric”, says Ben Smith at Politico; the Obama camp denies the rally’s religious undertones were intentional.

Is he the new messiah? Or perhaps a film star in the making. Have a look at the poster from Obama’s website:


Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey