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Is Oprah Trying to Turn 'Red' States 'Blue'?

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," November 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TRACE GALLAGHER, HOST: Well, outspoken on her support on the campaign trail for President-elect Barack Obama, queen of talk, Oprah Winfrey, promised not to use her show as a political platform. But now that the elections are over and her pick made it to the White House, she's going political.

On her political special the day after the election, she said and I'm quoting here, "So I kept my mouth shut and supported Barack Obama as a private citizen. Today, though, the election is over and I'm unleashed."

She's got Tina Fey on her show today and George Stephanopoulos tomorrow.

So is the Oprah show trying to turn red states blue?

Video: Watch Trace Gallagher's interview

Here now the former governor of Arkansas and the host of the weekend FOX show "Huckabee," Mike Huckabee. Also NPR correspondent and FOX News political analyst, Juan Williams.

And I guess I want to go to you first, Governor. I mean, is this fair game? Can Oprah's do it? It's her show. You're not going to use your show to advocate liberal values so I guess Oprah can do what she wants?

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS AND HOST OF 'HUCKABEE': Certainly, she can. This is not a news program. She is not a journalist. She is an entertainer. I mean, she's within her rights to do it. She takes a certain risk that she could offend a lot of her viewers and maybe they don't want to hear about her political views.

If her viewership drops off and subscriptions to "O Magazine" drop off, that's a risk she takes but she's in a position — she probably can afford to pretty well do what she wants to do. I don't have a problem with that.

GALLAGHER: Juan, what about you? Is she taking advantage of her audience? You know she's a very powerful woman. You know, you have a book that goes in the Oprah Book Club, you're all of a sudden rich. So is she taking advantage of her audience because she knows they're faithful, you know you're going to get, you know, three or four days, the best goodies and, you know, women's insights and stuff like that. Do you think she is kind of abusing her power?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR CORRESPONDENT AND FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think Mike is right. You know, look, Oprah Winfrey is a celebrity and there are lots of celebrity endorsements all the way down the line. I can think of so many in this past campaign. And you know, Mike Huckabee — Mike, weren't you endorsed? Who was the action star that endorsed you?

HUCKABEE: Chuck Norris!

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

HUCKABEE: Chuck Norris, yes. If Oprah wants to endorse me and have me on the show endorsing a book or give me a car, Oprah, give me a call. I'm right here.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Here's my point to you, Trace. The only thing I would say is, you know, Oprah went out on the road. She was in New Hampshire. She was in South Carolina. She's — I think at one point, she said he is the one. It got a little bit too much for me like a religious reference. But I think she was playing coy.

And then the question why didn't she have Sarah Palin on the show. She said, "Well, I didn't have any of them on." She'd had Barack Obama on earlier.

GALLAGHER: Of course she had Barack Obama on.

WILLIAMS: The only thing I object to is playing coy.

GALLAGHER: And talking out — kind of talking out of two sides of her mouth, Juan, because she did, as you said - she had Barack Obama on. She said that she'd love to have Sarah Palin on after the election. Do you think there's any shot, Juan, that she's going to have Sarah Palin now?

WILLIAMS: Well, it maybe, you know, this is going to be like Lyndon Johnson. He aides used to say the minute you leaked anything or contradicted, and he'd just do it to spite you. But at this moment, I'd say there's no way in heaven that Sarah Palin is coming on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

GALLAGHER: And I guess — what I'm thinking, Governor, is a lot of people will say, "You know, I spend a lot of money to go to concerts, you know, to hear Sting play. And then I get this political agenda." It's just - can't I just have - can I turn on Oprah and get what Oprah does without the political message?

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, celebrities have a right to express themselves and that's what they might do. I mean, the point is, the concertgoers have a right to say, "I'm not going to buy your ticket next time."

I have a lot of respect — Carrie Underwood, for example, came out and she said she has political views, but she's not going to express them. She didn't think her fans wanted to hear about that. That's her position. I have great respect for her and she is an amazingly talented young lady.

So different stars will approach this in different ways. But I go back to the point that Oprah Winfrey has no particular obligation to act like she is objective, to act as if she's somehow representing a standard of journalism, because that's not what she even intends or presents to represent.

GALLAGHER: Do you agree with that, Juan? I mean, is it that cut and dry that Oprah can just do what she wants even if she's got this billion- dollar empire and it is her ball and she can take it and go home if she wants to?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it is not her ball. In a sense, it's the advertisers and I think it's the viewers. And so if you start to see, Trace, a drop-off in her ratings, in her advertising rates and all, that's going to be a problem for Oprah Winfrey. But as of now, Oprah is so successful, I don't think it matters.

I will say that when you think about the politics involved here, it would have been more interesting if Oprah Winfrey had, you know, explained why she is such a big Barack Obama supporter and in fact, what her positions are on some issues. This to, to me, strikes me as more of - you know, there are so many celebrity voices and so many infomercials on TV.

And you would hope that Oprah Winfrey would rise above it. She's no journalist, boy, you know, she has a large, large influence on a large female audience which was decisive in this election.

GALLAGHER: But aren't you concerned - Governor, maybe you can take this first - aren't you concerned, as we go along, there will be bumps in the road for Barack Obama and you can see maybe Oprah Winfrey coming out every so often and saying in support of Barack Obama along the way, and you think, OK this is one long Oprah-Barack campaign?

HUCKABEE: That's a definite risk that Oprah will have to deal with. And if Barack Obama hits some trouble spots in his presidency, then she may be, in essence, called upon to answer for that. So there is some risk involved, that's the point.

But it's a free market. I'm free market guy.

GALLAGHER: I know.

HUCKABEE: And if you're a free-market guy, how do you say that you're going to have some type of muzzle on the mouth of a celebrity who happens to have her own television show and has more money than god? I mean, she can pretty well say whatever she doggone well wants to.

GALLAGHER: You know, that's right. That's what we're talking about, Juan. She can say what she wants to. And if people tune out, well, you know what? Oprah's got how much money she's got. She's got a lot of money.

WILLIAMS: She is the only person I know who could actually buy the entire Obama campaign with money left over.

GALLAGHER: Exactly. She can finance the whole thing. No public funding, just have Oprah fund it.

HUCKABEE: Yes. Right.

GALLAGHER: Go ahead, Juan. I'll give you the last word.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, when I think about the stars and their endorsements, I don't know that it means a whole lot. When Mike was talking, I was thinking of Carrie - I was thinking about the Dixie Chicks. And for a while, they really did have big trouble. And then they used it as a platform to get back in and attracted a new audience.

I think Oprah wants to keep her audience and for me, the proof will be in the pudding where we go from here. Because if Barack Obama hits troubled waters, does she remains so political that she supports him no matter what. Remember, she left Rev. Wright's church. I don't think she stays there through all the troubles.

GALLAGHER: I think it's a good point that celebrities sometimes become a detriment to candidates.

HUCKABEE: Well, they can become a detriment, because anything that they do can wash off of candidate and anything a candidate does can wash off on the celebrity. That's why if celebrities are going to make endorsements, they need to make them with guys like me who won't ever embarrass them.

GALLAGHER: Governor, what time is the show on Saturday night?

HUCKABEE: 8:00 Saturday, 8:00 Sunday. We've got Oliver Stone this week, the second part of our interview with Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers. This is going to be a great show.

GALLAGHER: We talked in the elevator about that —

WILLIAMS: And Trace, let me say —

GALLAGHER: Go ahead.

WILLIAMS: Let me say I endorse Huckabee. You know what? Journalists don't usually endorse, but I will. Huckabee for president. Here — right here, right now.

GALLAGHER: And the show, "Huckabee," 8 p.m. ET Saturday night, the same time Sunday night. Oliver Stone — we talked about it in the elevator. Oliver Stone is going to — the governor is going to go after him on "W." Whether he needs going after or not, he's going to hit him on "W."

Governor, thanks very much.

HUCKABEE: Thanks.

GALLAGHER: Juan Williams, always good to see you.

WILLIAMS: See you, Trace.

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