Will Oprah's Support Help or Hurt Obama?

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: As you know, Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Barack Obama has gotten a whole lot of attention. After learning Obama was the presumptive nominee, the daytime queen said she was "doing the happy dance" and offered to go door to door to help Obama win in November. But is that such a good idea?

With us now is political analyst Keli Goff and the author of the book "Party Crashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence."

Keli, great to see you.


INGRAHAM: Now all these celebrities turned out for Obama in California for the California primary. It was huge events and, you know, it was a big deal. He lost the California primary. Did these celebrity endorsements, even when it's someone like Oprah, do they matter?

GOFF: Well, I think it depends on who it is and what capacity they're endorsing. I don't think that Ben Affleck instructing people to go out and vote for someone…

INGRAHAM: Yes, she slams Affleck on the show.

GOFF: ...in some way…

INGRAHAM: I like Ben Affleck. I'm just totally teasing. It's a long-standing thing with me and Ben Affleck.



GOFF: So — but I think people actually instructing — I don't think it results in people going into the voting booth and automatically pulling the lever. That's not how it works.

But you know what? The thing about Oprah is we all know that she can draw a crowd, and that's what she's really good at doing. She was able to draw crowds for things like fund-raisers. Let's not forget that mega rally in South Carolina, where they had to actually move it…

INGRAHAM: 30,000 people.

GOFF: ...from 12,000-person arena to an 80,000-person arena.

INGRAHAM: Let's talk about, though, the fact that her viewers got pretty ticked off during this primary. A lot of them, women viewers, who really supported Hillary. And a lot of them just didn't like the fact that she was getting into politics. So did the O brand suffer at all? Her ratings dipped a little bit and people were speculating that it was the Obama involvement. She was totally silent during the Reverend Wright controversy. Did you notice? She was saying nothing, doing no interviews. And then he's the nominee and Oprah's like I'm going to be there door to door.

GOFF: Well, it's actually not that surprising she was quiet during the Reverend Wright thing, because one of the things she made a conscious choice to do is she said, look, I've said who I've endorsed, and it's not really fair for me to talk about politics on my show because there wouldn't be genuine…

INGRAHAM: It'll hurt her show.

GOFF: Well, no, think the bigger issue, though, in terms of looking at her brand and whether or not her door-knocking is actually going to make a difference. Look, if he's going to pick one of his celebrity supporters to go endorse and bring home the soccer moms, I volunteer George Clooney. I mean, you know, I'm sure that him knocking on a few doors could actually sway a few voters.

INGRAHAM: Well, Keli, I think we'll know that Oprah's really serious about this if Barack Obama is on the cover of O magazine because hasn't she been on the cover…

GOFF: She's the only…

INGRAHAM: Now if Obama is not on the cover, forget it.

GOFF: We'll know that she's really…

INGRAHAM: It's over.

GOFF: ...she's really serious.

INGRAHAM: Now, but aren't we a little bit too sophisticated now as a people and we have all this access to all these things to read on the Internet to be swayed by a celebrity? Even someone who is one of the Forbes most powerful women in the world, Oprah Winfrey? I mean, we make our own decisions. And we like Oprah for certain things, but maybe not for foreign policy or political judgment.

GOFF: I don't know, Laura, you tell me. Have you ever seen the reaction of screaming masses during her favorite things show?

INGRAHAM: Yes, well that is real. Does that mean the Barack Obama presidency will be like my favorite things show and they'll just be doling out things left and right. Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. And that's an excellent point.

GOFF: Well, and actually, in all seriousness, I will say this, which is I think what's sort of gotten lost in this whole conversation about Oprah supporting him and African-American voters supporting him.


GOFF: There is this perception that, well, he's the black guy. They're all lining up to support the black guy when you and I both know that there are all these conversations…

INGRAHAM: I got that.

GOFF: …a year and a half ago about whether he was even black enough.


GOFF: But I would say what's gotten lost in this conversation is look, he's her senator. And Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, they're friends. There's a relationship there. So I think part of that was about her vouching for someone that she has a personal kinship to, as opposed to it just being yet another celebrity saying hey, these are my politics, this is what I want you to do, a sort of Sean Penn sort of situation if you will.

INGRAHAM: Well, this is what John McCain is going to say in response to this. You have Oprah, you have Geffen, I have Wilford Brimley and Wayne Newton, OK? And those — I mean, I love both of them.

GOFF: Wilford Brimley is not to be trifled with.

INGRAHAM: No, no, but he has, you know, he has the old stalwart Republicans, all five of them in Hollywood. There are more than that, actually, but the ones who put their neck on the line and be out there.

GOFF: Well, look, let me tell you this much. I think that Oprah going door-knocking, which I actually — I would be willing to bet that we might actually see that happening because that's publicity goal.

INGRAHAM: Will she bring Gail? Will Gail go with her?

GOFF: She might, because can I tell you something? Can you imagine the amount of free publicity, a woman sitting at home watching Oprah and then there's a knock on her door?

INGRAHAM: Here's my question.

GOFF: There's Gail and Oprah.

INGRAHAM: She says she's not going to do my favorite things anymore. Will she bring, though, some of the items from my favorite thing and go door to door for Obama? If you vote, a dishwasher for you. I mean, no, you can't do that.

GOFF: That would be ratings gold.

INGRAHAM: .But the one thing she can do, I think you and I can both agree on, is raise a lot of money for him.

GOFF: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: And the money game is going to be critical for buying media. She has powerful friends. I mean, she can have a dinner at her house in Montecito for 1,500 people, charge $1500, $2,000 whatever it is a pop and raise some money.

GOFF: And guess what? Now she can get some of those Hillary donors in there. That's a whole new crop.

INGRAHAM: Well, if the anger toward Barack Obama can be stemmed, probably Oprah is the one to do it. Is that right?

GOFF: Oh, I think she can be extremely helpful. Look, you know, it's — we all know that she's very good at doing tough interviews and helping to build bridges. And so, there's definitely a bridge that needs to be built between the Obama camp…

INGRAHAM: Any sense about where Tom Cruise is going in all of this? I mean, I think of Oprah…

GOFF: What we might find out on her couch, right? Jumping up and down.

INGRAHAM: Don't even — I can't. Keli, it's good to see you. Thanks for being here.

GOFF: Good being here.

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