Edwards campaign goes negative on Oprah in South Carolina. Can Hillary be far behind. The Oprah factor may put Obama in the lead in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina with the very voters Hillary says she has a lock on, namely Democratic women, black women in particular. Well, it might not work out that way. It appears Hillary is sending Bill Clinton to South Carolina to maintain support from black women, who Hillary fears will go over to Obama, once they hear from Oprah. Will the Edwards camp force Oprah to address any real political issues? Probably not. Political Night Train will keep close tabs on the Oprah Effect.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The coming Oprah phenomenon on behalf of Senator Barack Obama is already having a ripple effect on rival campaigns.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is sending Bill Clinton here to South Carolina on Saturday, the day before Oprah Winfrey arrives. The former president has spoken here often on behalf of his wife and has proved enormously popular with South Carolina voters.
And on a conference call today, supporters of former Senator John Edwards expressed dissatisfaction with Ms. Winfrey for coming here but not addressing issues like education, health care or poor conditions facing senior citizens.
“If you can build a school in South Africa, build one in South Carolina,” Linda Dogan, a member of the City Council in Spartanburg, said on the conference call, which was organized by the Edwards campaign.
The stated purpose of the call was for several prominent African-Americans who support Mr. Edwards to discuss the candidate’s “plan for opportunity.” They said that Mr. Edwards was emphasizing issues like poverty and education, that he was paying attention to rural areas and to the criminal justice system, that he had a “Southern strategy” and that he could win.
One reporter questioned whether the call was timed because of Ms. Winfrey’s campaigning for Mr. Obama. She is to appear in Iowa Saturday, comes to South Carolina Sunday and ends in Manchester, N.H., that night.
Ms. Dogan said that as a black woman, Ms. Winfrey’s visit “doesn’t mean anything to me” if she is not going to deal with local issues. “It makes me a little ill,” she said, noting that Ms. Winfrey is extremely wealthy. “Oprah coming here means absolutely nothing to me unless she’s going to do something for South Carolina,” she said.
John Moylan, Mr. Edwards’s South Carolina director, said that the call was not about Ms. Winfrey but about opportunity.
Tyrone Freeman, president of the United Long Term Care Workers West, of the Service Employees International Union, suggested that Ms. Winfrey was the only way to get the attention of the news media, which, he said, had been “unjust” by not covering the important issues that Mr. Edwards is raising. “All of us would do this call every week,” he said. “It’s only now because of Oprah we can get your attention.”