Opinion: Obama, Oprah and Nightline


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Barack Obama began the day with a bang -- playing the long-awaited Oprah Winfrey card. And he ends it with a shot at Hillary Clinton -- taking dead aim tonight at the resume she touts in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Early this morning, Obama’s presidential campaign confirmed that, in a followup to the much-publicized fundraiser for him at her Santa Barbara-area estate in early September, Winfrey would join the Illinois senator on the stump in key early-voting states. She’ll make two stops in Iowa on Dec. 8 (a Saturday), and one in New Hampshire and South Carolina (both on Dec. 9).


The campaign’s release proclaims: ‘All events will be free and open to the public.’ But a blog item by the Chicago Tribune reports it’s not quite that egalitarian. To get a good seat at the Iowa events, for instance, one must either ‘commit four hours to volunteering for Barack’s campaign’ or ‘attend a caucus training with your local organizer or precinct captain.’

Winfrey’s campaign swing will attract a crush of media. But how many votes she will win for Obama is problematic. More important to the outcome of the Iowa caucuses and the ensuing contests may be how persuasive he is in chipping away at Clinton’s intensifying arguments that she possesses -- and that he lacks -- the experience Americans should expect in a president.

Late this evening, in an interview on ABC’s ‘Nightline,’ Obama confronts the experience question by deriding the way the New York senator draws on her years as first lady in pursuing the presidency.

‘I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the [Bill] Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn’t work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it,’ he said. A transcript of the interview is available here.

Referring to his own wife, he continued: ‘There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues. On the other had, I don’t think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I’ve done.’

One caveat that strikes us: Obama may only discuss his vocation ‘on occasion’ with his wife; we think it’s safe to assume Bill and Hillary focus on politics a bit more frequently.


You can read more about Obama’s Nightline interview here.

-- Don Frederick