Oprah Obama Fundraiser update

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Hat Tip: Lynn Sweet Blog, Chicago Sun Times 

MONTECITO, CALIF. — Oprah Winfrey opened the high iron gates of her highly guarded estate here Saturday to raise more than $3 million for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), his biggest single-day haul ever, in a fund-raising spectacle rarely seen in U.S. politics.

“I haven’t been actively engaged before because there hasn’t been anything to be actively engaged in. But I am engaged now to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” a source said Winfrey told the crowd just before the concert, starring Stevie Wonder.

Introducing Obama, Winfrey said that “nobody can stand in the way of destiny.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as the Great Gatsby party scene unfolded before him on Winfrey’s meadow under a gorgeous sky.

Real celebrities mingled with Obama’s best donors and bundlers rewarded for their fund-raising efforts with a star-studded afternoon. Among those present at the event featuring the two most famous Chicagoans in the world: actors Lou Gossett Jr.; Cicely Tyson; Forest Whitaker; Ellen Pompeo; Sidney Poitier; Linda Evans; Tyler Perry; Chris Rock; Hill Harper (who attended Harvard Law with Obama); music producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds; Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, football quarterback Rodney Peete; Winfrey beau Stedman Graham; radio personality Tom Joyner; sports legends Ernie Banks, Bill Russell and Dave Winfield; tennis great Jimmy Connors, and model Cindy Crawford and husband Rande Gerber.

There was a contingent from Obama’s Chicago-based kitchen cabinet, including Habitat honcho Valerie Jarrett and John Rogers, the Illinois finance co-chair.

The most important VIPs got to drive right up to the mansion, with most of the estimated 1,500 attendees who either gave or raised $2,300 shuttled by bus to Winfrey’s from the Earl Warren Showgrounds eight miles away in Santa Barbara.

At 3 p.m., there was Oprah/Obama gridlock on the Highway 101 Las Positas off-ramp leading to the staging area. Two women wearing leis waiting in the traffic jam said they flew in from Hawaii for the event. Judge Greg Mathis, who presides over the “Judge Mathis” show taped in Chicago, was in line, idling in his convertible Mercedes SL500.

Security was tight. The event was closed to the press. At the showgrounds, people dressed out of the pages of Vogue and GQ, despite the admonition to wear “garden attire,” were delivered in limos and sharp cars. Everyone had to give up cameras as they went through security. A reporter trying to interview people on the showgrounds was threatened with arrest.

Inside the fund-raiser, there were separate levels of access, depending on how much money people were raising for Obama, with the most prolific bundlers staying for a dinner.

Food stations offered mini-burgers, corn-on-the-cob on sticks, guacamole and chips; lemonade and vodka; red or white wine, and a full bar.

The Obama campaign’s regional professional fund-raisers brought their best contributors, with the high-rollers bunking at the spectacular Fess Parker resort in Santa Barbara.

Making the entire experience pleasurable for Obama’s best donors; Oprah, Obama and wife Michelle were posing for individual pictures, according to a person at the party.

As the evening wore down a stream of tired-looking but exceedingly well-dressed people, some carrying green souvenir blankets, poured past the wooden doors of Winfrey’s yard, leaving the home she calls “the Promised Land” to board buses to take them back to reality.

6 thoughts on “Oprah Obama Fundraiser update

  1. I don’t think I’ll ever stop cracking up that she named the place “Promised Land”…I think it’s hilarious.

    Only a side angle, but shallow point, I think Michelle looks fabulous.🙂

    You know I want some pics to leak out, don’t you?😉

  2. Emma

    I am not rich or famous, but I am so happy that Oprah has proven herself as one who can tap into the resources of those who are. Never was there a more worthy cause than for Barack Obama to be elected as our next President. He embodies everything I am looking for in a president: honesty, integrity, spirituality, and good judgment; all of these represent the change in Washington that this country so desperately needs. I say thank you to all of the persons attending and contributing to this cause. Congratulations, Oprah! Congratulations Sen. and Mrs. Obama. May God bless and keep you safe and good.

  3. Excuse me, but where is the criticism of the “Black Middle Class” that we get all the time here in Los Angeles?

    The Martin Luther King/Harbor Medical Center closes in South L.A. and we’re told its the fault of the “Black Middle Class.”

    The Los Angeles Unified School District is a disgrace and we’re told it’s the fault of the “Black Middle Class.”

    We are told that anybody who doesn’t like gangsta rap and don’t think “niggah” and “bitch” are “cool” is “bourgeois.”

    We are told that anybody who doesn’t think living next door to an armed gang is “bourgeois.”
    We are told that the “Black Middle Class’ has a sacred duty to go out and vote for almost any Democratic Party hack.

    But I guess if you are a Republican billionaire like Oprah and her “boyfriend” Steadman Graham, you can do whatever you like.

    Read more on my blog at:

    http://www.greencommons.org/node/781

  4. Denise

    Let the HAAAAAATING begin…

    http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/09/12/ap4111154.html

    “Sept. 9

    Chicago Sun-Times, on Oprah’s voting history:

    It’s easy, Oprah, so why not vote?

    Oprah, we know you are a busy woman, being a media mogul and everything, but don’t you think you could vote in a presidential primary once in a while? You haven’t cast a ballot in a presidential primary since 1988, a detail we might have completely glossed over if you hadn’t started raising money for Barack Obama’s primary campaign. You even allowed the wealthy to trample your meadow grass last night during an Obama fund-raiser at your Santa Barbara mansion. Despite your fancy digs in California, you’ve been registered to vote in Chicago, and it wouldn’t take much to slip on a pair of your “Favorite Things” slippers and saunter on down … to your assigned polling spot. …

    Once there, you can cast your vote, privately, just the way you like it, in the building’s lobby. Then you can trot back home to your high-rise and play with your dogs. You could wear a hat and big glasses, but ditch the security guards because that’s a real tipoff to fans who may be lying in wait for a glimpse of the daytime diva.

    All this is not to take away from your perfect attendance during the presidential elections. You have a robust voting record in those contests, but you only voted in (non-presidential) Illinois primaries in 1994 and 2002. How could you miss a chance to participate in the democratic process? Making a difference is supposed to be what you’re about.”

  5. I still remember the day Bush appeared on Oprah. There was a heckler in the audiene that day who did not like Bush. He made this dislike known. To the applause of the audience, Oprah promptly reprimanded the heckler and he was escourted out by security.

    Bush won!

    Yeah, I know. This was just a coincidence. Surely her defense of Bush had nothing to do with his winning the White House. Right!? I mean, her audience is largely white female. She does cater to this audience. Maybe they will take to heart her endorsement of Obama. Anything is possible.

    I want Obaman to win, win.

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