Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oprah's back!

ALBUQUERQUE – Oprah is on the way.

On Sunday, Oprah Winfrey is returning to the presidential campaign trail to headline a California event for Senator Barack Obama. The Obama campaign has yet to announce details, but people familiar with the event say the television talk show magnate will join Michelle Obama at a campaign rally in the Los Angeles area.

The goal? Closing the gap with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in California before Tuesday’s primary. The target? Women voters.

It has been nearly two months since Ms. Winfrey made her debut on the trail, drawing tens of thousands of people to arenas in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Mr. Obama won Iowa and South Carolina, which aides attribute to the attention stirred by Ms. Winfrey. (Particularly the landslide South Carolina victory.)

Ms. Winfrey has not played a role in Mr. Obama’s television advertising campaign and has been out of the political spotlight since that weekend in December., when she strode onto a stage in Des Moines, declaring: “Oh my goodness. At last, I’m here.”

“I’ve been in contact with her consistently,” Mr. Obama said aboard his campaign plane the other day, “and she’s open to helping out in any ways that she can.”

Today, Mr. Obama flew from California to begin the sprint to Super Tuesday, campaigning in New Mexico and Idaho, Minnesota and Missouri. In a news conference in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama was asked why it appeared he was giving up on California, which holds the largest trove of delegates. He smiled – not revealing the Oprah secret – and said: “We’ll see. I don’t share that view.”

“I think this is going to be very competitive, but we’ve got 22 states,” Mr. Obama said. “Just from a purely strategic perspective, I think everybody understands that if we are spending all of our time in one state and not spending time in the other 21, then that might not lead to the most delegates. And this is, frankly, a delegate race at this point.”
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