WASHINGTON (AFP) — US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey will sprinkle star dust on Barack Obama's presidential campaign next month, on a three state bus tour with the Democratic challenger.
The billionaire entertainer will link up with Obama in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa on December 8, then join him in other key battlegrounds New Hampshire and South Carolina, the Obama campaign said.
Obama will be hoping that some of Winfrey's legions of viewers, including crucial women voters, will transfer their allegiance from the showbiz icon to his bid to pip Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
In September, Winfrey drew a bevy of A-list Hollywood stars for a fundraiser at her sprawling California estate for Obama, who is vying to become America's first black president.
Her power to sway sentiments of her viewers is legendary: her famous television book club catapaults novels from obscurity into sure-fire bestsellers.
The impact of celebrity endorsements however is often disputed, but with Democratic polls deadlocked in Iowa, which holds fabled leadoff caucus nominating contests on January 3, even a few changed votes could be crucial.
Obama, who lives in Chicago, where Winfrey's afternoon talk show is recorded, was asked by the city's Tribune newspaper in September whether Winfrey's support would make a difference.
"It's very hard to say," he said. "I think a presidential race is unique. The job is unique.
"Oprah is somebody who has enormous reach, and that means that I may get a hearing in certain quarters," he said.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, Winfrey is considered the second most influential women in the United States. The most influential? Hillary Clinton.
Winfrey has recently been trying to stave off the fallout from allegations that a matron at her elite South African's girls school sexually abused students.
She apologized to the parents and students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy and vowed the Johannesburg school would bounce back.
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