Is the Oprah Machine a Match for Clinton Machine

Winfrey Hits the Stump for Obama in Iowa, N.H., S.C.

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Back in July, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I said Barack Obama had won the endorsement-of-the-week award when Oprah Winfrey announced she'd hold a fundraiser for him. But Hollywood cash-bashes are one thing. Getting her highness to hit the road in key early states is something else entirely.

If I'm reading the press release correctly, Oprah will do an Iowa rally on Dec. 8 and then hit both New Hampshire and South Carolina on Dec. 9.

I wouldn't claim that Oprah can win an election for anyone -- and it's unclear if she'd help at all in a state like New Hampshire -- but she does a couple of things for Obama. Firstly, she's the sort of endorser that the other candidates -- yes, even the notorious Clinton machine -- wouldn't think of knocking. You don't mess with the Oprah. Secondly, she could give Obama a healthy boost with the black vote in South Carolina. Up to 50% of those voting in the Democratic primary in South Carolina are black. While that would seem like an instant win for Obama, the Clintons have a great deal of goodwill built up with African-American Democrats and there have been whispers from the start that Obama isn't "black enough."

It'll be interesting to see what Oprah says at these rallies, though it's a safe bet she won't be handing out free refrigerators or cars.