Oprah Winfrey for US President? No, the salary is too low

The TV icon has supported Barack Obama.

Questions:

1. Why did Oprah Winfrey choose Barack Obama to support in the campaign? Why not Hillary Clinton or someone else?

2. What do you think  Obama could win from this endorsement? Could it also harm him in some way?

3. Oprah Winfrey is a very influential person with the 100 percent name recognition. Very hypothetically do you think she could consider her own presidential candidacy in the future? Dou you think she could have a chance to succeed with this kind of attempt, and why? Would it be better for her to try to win the nomination in Democratic Party or to try to candidate as the independent? ( GOP is not an option for her I think).

Answers:

Andrew E. Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of New Hampshire

1. Both are from Chicago and both are African American.  And I think both represent the more affluent middle class of black America that isn’t often written about or portrayed on TV.  There is also a lot of concern among Democrats that Clinton is too divisive a figure and that she will increase Republican turnout in the November general election.

2. The biggest thing he gets from the endorsement is three solid days of media coverage.  The second thing he gets is 8,000 to 10,000 people in each city Oprah visits.  They come to see Oprah but have to listen to him.  He should be able to convert many of those potential voters.

3. I don’t think Oprah would want to take the pay cut!  I don’t think she would make a good candidate — too much fodder for her opponents on her TV show.

Darrell West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies, Brookings Institution, He was Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Brown University

1. Oprah feels that a fresh face is exactly what America needs.  At a time when two-thirds of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, she thinks that someone from outside the political mainstream is needed in order to put the United States back on the right course.

2. Her endorsement generated enormous media coverage for Barack Obama as well as new money for the campaign.  Oprah has great credibility among women and African-Americans, and they are exactly the constituent groups that Obama needs.

3. Oprah is well-liked because she has not been a partisan political figure.  If she ran for president, the veneer of good will she has created for herself would evaporate and she would become just another politician.  I don’t expect her to run for office.

Alan Schroeder, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism, Northeastern University, Boston

1. Winfrey and Obama have been friends for a long time.  Both live in Chicago, both are African-American, and both are concerned with the same kinds of issues.  Like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama is a dynamic and charismatic figure with great appeal to a wide cross-section of Americans.  Their alliance seems logical and genuine.

Under other circumstances, Oprah might have endorsed Hillary Clinton, but she chose Barack because of their close relationship.

2. The endorsement will probably not change votes, but it does two things for him: (1) raises his visibility in the media, and (2) draws big crowds to his campaign events.  It harms him only if Oprah says something inappropriate during their campaigning together, or if she overshadows him– which has not happened so far.

3. Oprah has been mentioned as a presidential candidate for several years, but she has never expressed an interest in political office.  It is possible that she maintains more influence as a private citizen.  Certainly as one of the wealthiest women in America, she would suffer financially by serving as president.

Of course she could change her mind, especially as she looks for new challenges in her life.  I do believe it would be possible for Oprah to win the Democratic nomination, though as a non-traditional politician she would need to run a creative campaign that broke the rules of how you run for office.  I also think she would have an excellent chance of being elected president.  Nobody took Ronald Reagan seriously — or Arnold Schwarzenegger either, and look what happened!

Dennis Goldford, Professor of Politics, Dept. of Politics and International Relations, Drake University

1. That’s difficult to answer.  Perhaps she chose him because he would be the first black presidential nominee candidate of a major political party, or perhaps because he campaigns against “politics as usual,” wanting a change from the partisanship and bitterness of the last 15 years in American politics.

2. The endorsement does not translate into immediate support.  All it does is call attention to Obama among people who may not have looked closely at candidates this year, but then he himself has to persuade them to support him.  In a business analogy, Oprah’s endorsement helps bring customers into the shop, but Obama has to make the sale.

3. I don’t believe she would ever consider running herself–she has more influence, though not actual power, now than she would as president.  She is a wonderful speaker, which would lend itself to a political career, but she already has her own massive forum on television.

One Response

  1. […] question “What if Oprah Winfrey will candidate for President?” is not a new. (I run an article in 2007 about this). But do you think this time is something different, is she somehow an answer to […]

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