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It was the weekend when the Oprah Winfrey show featured Barack Obama as the star guest. Oprah accompanied Obama to Iowa and South Carolina before finishing the tour last night in Manchester, New Hampshire.
People came from all over New Hampshire. Alexis Jackson came from Guilford, on Lake Winnipesaukee.
"I'm here because I wanted to hear what his positions are on the issues, and I wanted to hear it in person." Jackson said.
Jackson says she's still trying to figure who she's going to vote for. She says she's not an avid fan of Oprah Winfrey, but she says she knew the night would be entertaining, and so thought she might as well take advantage of Oprah's visit to see Barack Obama. Being a good New Hampshire voter, she hopes she'll get to see Obama in a smaller venue before the primary.
Jennah Labadie says she would have come from Sullivan, a two-hour drive away, even if Oprah hadn't been part of the program.
"I'm really trying to ferret out the differences among the many Democrats," Labadie said. "I'm a big Democrat, but honestly, it's a tough, tough choice."
Even though the news is that Oprah was in Manchester, it was Oprah who was the opening act for Obama. She talked about why for the first time ever, she is endorsing a presidential candidate.
"There are those who say that Barack Obama should wait his turn. People say that he should take a gradual approach. He should wait," Oprah said.
The audience shouts, "No!"
"That's what I say," Oprah said. "I say where would you be in your life if you'd waited? Where would you if you'd waited when people told you what you could and could not do? Where would I be in my life if I'd waited on people to tell me it was time?"
Oprah was very conscious of the fact that people are wondering whether she can do for Obama what she's done for books.
She said, "Everybody knows I love books, and I'm not going to talk about books, 'cause all the pundits are saying: "Will she be able to influence the crowds as she has influenced them with books? They act like I don't know that you all got some sense, you know? I know we all know the difference between book clubs and favorite things and free refrigerators."
Obama walked onto the stage, hugged Oprah Winfrey, then his wife, Michelle. All three waved to the crowd. I've seen Barack Obama in six rallies now. This was by far the most electric.
"This is a pretty good crowd!" Obama said.
The Verizon Wireless Arena seats more than 11 thousand people. The bottom seats were mostly full, and the top seats were mostly empty. Obama delivered the most fiery address I've ever seen him deliver, but once or twice, he slowed the pace down to ridicule Hillary Clinton, who is leading in the polls in New Hampshire, and whose campaign last week said Obama has been planning his presidential run since kindergarten.
"I know that people were digging up my kindergarten papers, said I wrote an essay. I was a pretty bright kid, but I don't remember writing essays when I was in kindergarten," Obama said.
Oprah's appearance on behalf of Obama made at least one convert, Jennah Labadie, who said that Oprah had not been the draw for her.
"Hey! It was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Something Oprah said really brought it home for me, which was really such a great asset: she really does her homework," Labadie said. "Average people really don't have the time, money, or energy to invest in really, really researching their candidates. Oprah has a whole staff she can devote to it, so she says she's done her homework, she's done her homework, and I've never seen her go wrong."
Whether it's with Oprah Winfrey or by himself, Obama has been the only candidate to hold these huge rallies in New Hampshire, and he's been doing it for months. He has less than a month to go to the New Hampshire primary to find out if his star appeal can translate into victory.
This program aired on December 10, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.
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