Opinion: Looking for a free seat to see Oprah Sunday?

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Among the most invisible yet vital people in these presidential campaigns unfolding before our eyes these days are the advance teams, the skeleton crews of round-the-clock workers who descend on a site a few days before a campaign event and ensure that everything goes smoothly, from the sound system to the extra lights for TV cameras to the backstage bottles of cold water or soda preferred by the candidate.

One of their biggest fears, always certain to draw the attention of TV cameras, are any empty seats. That looks very bad. So imagine the joy in the hearts of the Obama advance folks this afternoon when they learned that the Sunday rally in Columbia, S.C., with Oprah Winfrey that they had oversold was now being moved to a larger place -- a much larger place.

Now, instead of the 18,000 seats in the downtown Colonial Center, where all tickets were gone days ago, they’re supposed to fill the University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium, which seats 80,000.


‘This event far exceeded our expectations,’ says Obama spokesman Kevin Griffis. The decision makes life much easier for those handing out tickets. They need say no to no one.

But for the advance team, it’s another story. Oprah’s a big draw, to be sure. But 80,000? Watch the TV coverage come Sunday night for any empty seats.

-- Andrew Malcolm