Chicagoans Oprah Winfrey and Barack and Michelle Obama have been genuine friends for many years, long before the Democratic presidential nominee held White House aspirations.
But there's no denying that Oprah possesses an abundance of both money and influence. In fact, Time magazine named Oprah as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, and her extraordinary influence continues unabated in the 21st century. And several publications claim that Oprah has been the world's only black billionaire for the last three years.
Until Barack Obama declared his presidential candidacy, media magnate Oprah Winfrey stayed mum about her political views, knowing that her viewers represent the entire partisan spectrum. But as Oprah watched Obama deliver his famed 2004 Democratic Convention speech, she recounts thinking, "This is something above and beyond politics."
In 2006 on her talk show, Oprah urged Sen. Obama to run for the presidency. And in late 2007, she hosted a lucrative Obama fundraiser, and made four campaign appearances with him in crucial primary states.
Those pundits and skeptics underestimated Oprah's influence. Recently, two University of Maryland economists concluded that Oprah's endorsement of Barack Obama resulted in a net gain of 1,015,559 primary votes for Obama, which likely made the difference between Obama winning or losing the nomination.
But that's NOT what impresses me about Oprah's support of Obama. While her influence and money were undoubtedly vital to his primary race victory, what impresses me about Oprah is that it doesn't matter to her if she loses some viewers over her beliefs.
Oprah wholeheartedly supports Barack Obama because she believes in his ideas and his leadership. Oprah has unwavering faith in Barack Obama's vision for America.
Unlike too many politically-involved celebrities, Oprah doesn't need more publicity or influence or frankly, more money. While she treasures her viewers and fans, Oprah is all about doing the right thing to make this a better world. And that, of course, is precisely why Oprah is the presently most powerful celebrity in the U.S., per Forbes magazine.
Word comes today that Oprah Winfrey will be in attendance on the last day of the '08 Democratic Convention in Denver when Sen. Barack Obama accepts the Democratic party's presidential nomination on the on the 45th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's famed "I Have a Dream" speech .
I hope that the 80,000 people at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 28, 2008 take a moment to espress their gratitude to Oprah Winfrey for courageously making a difference for our country, both in her mutli-faceted career of ministering to others and in this crucial presidential race.
And from me: Thank you, Oprah!
(Photo taken on June 25, 2008: Getty Images Pool)