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Candidate using the 'O' factor

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POSTED: December 29, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Pundits and pollsters are trying to figure out just how big a plus Oprah Winfrey is to the Barack Obama presidential campaign. They know it’s big, they just don’t know how big.
Celebrity endorsements often don’t mean that much in political campaigns, but Oprah is no ordinary celebrity. She is a role model for millions of women. Her credibility soars. When she recommends a book, it becomes an instant bestseller.
On the campaign trail in the three early primary states, the Oprah/Obama team packed them in, attracting record crowds. In South Carolina, folks began lining up for seats before dawn for a 2:30 p.m. rally. On a freezing night in Manchester, N.H. with snow in the forecast, the double-O combo had them hanging from the rafters of Verizon Arena.
This duo is almost an embarrassment of riches. What Oprah brings to the table is a personality bigger than life, a magnetism that fills every seat. She assures Obama that when he speaks, lots and lots of people will be there to listen.
I know politicians who really need that. Dick Gephardt comes instantly to mind. He had lots of substance, but little pizzazz. When the former Democratic House Majority Leader ran for President in 2004, he had a track record of accomplishments and important ideas for a better America, but too few people ever heard about it. After Iowa, he dropped out.
But why does Barack Obama need a warm-up act? His appeal reminds me of Jack Kennedy’s run for President in 1960. Everywhere Kennedy campaigned, record crowds showed up, some just to see if he looked as handsome in person as on TV. Obama has the same rock-star appeal.
When he spoke to an overflow audience at the National Press Club earlier this year, the kitchen staff kept sneaking peaks and several regulars at the bar even climbed down from their stools to eye him as he walked by.
Somehow, Oprah joining Obama is like Exxon-Mobil getting another tax break.
Combine the success of double-O with what Chuck Norris has meant to the surging Huckabee campaign and pundits might have to re-evaluate the importance of candidate endorsements.

About Kamber
For more than a quarter of a century, Kamber has made headlines as a political consultant while writing several books and providing sound bites that resonate for network and cable talk shows.
His career achievements were recently recognized when he become the recipient of the prestigious PR News’ 2006 Hall of Fame Award for his outstanding career in labor communications and politics. Those responsibilities have included a multitude of activities including working as a consultant in more than 100 political races; establishing the award-winning communications firm, The Kamber Group; and now serving as president of Coalition Services for Carmen Group Inc.
His blog can be read at http://www.victorkamber.com
 

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