President Barack Obama likely regrets alienating talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement helped him win the presidency in 2008, author and journalist Edward Klein told TheBlaze.
Klein speculated that Winfrey certainly regrets getting involved in politics, as she did when Obama first ran, one reason she refused to join other entertainers in promoting Obamacare.
“One has to assume that it’s the shabby treatment that resulted in her not helping the president with Obamacare,” Klein told TheBlaze. “I think if she had, putting aside all the problems that we know about Obamacare, that Oprah could have been very effective in helping the president reach women in particular and also African Americans.”
In a piece published in the New York Post this week, Klein reported that Winfrey refused to help promote the beleaguered Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
“As we also know, Obamacare, unless young people and those who have been frozen out of health care up to now sign up, Obamacare is not going to work,” Klein continued. “So I think Obama must regret, I assume, that he has alienated Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women on earth.”
Klein, a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and former foreign editor of Newsweek, first reported on the rift between the Obama administration and Oprah in his book, “The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House,” published last year.
“She does have regrets having gotten involved in the 2008 campaign,” Klein said of Winfrey. “She was very instrumental in helping Obama win the Democratic presidential primary according to a lot of social science that has looked into this. Oprah was responsible for about a million votes for Obama during those primaries.”
Klein’s book cites polling that showed the previously apolitical Winfrey saw her favorable rating drop from 74 percent to 66 percent after she made the endorsement. However, the result for Obama was a boon, as the book cites a University of Maryland study that estimated the Oprah endorsement meant 1,015,559 votes for Obama. The Pew Research Center found the talk show host made Obama more popular to black and women voters when he was running against frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“She traveled around the country campaigning for him, with the proviso that she believed that she had a promise from the Obamas that in return she would be given special access to the White House,” Klein said. “When she tried to get that access, Valerie Jarrett froze her out, closed the door on her. I think she has been ever since very upset with them and I think regrets that she was so helpful in the first place.”
Jarrett, a top White House adviser and long-time friend of the Obamas, is described in Klein’s book as the “gatekeeper.”
“Valerie Jarrett saw Oprah as a potential threat to her power,” the book says. “If Oprah went unchecked, she would bypass Valerie and go directly to the president and first lady. What good was it being the gatekeeper if you couldn’t lock the gate when you wanted? And so Valerie set about turning Michelle Against Oprah.”
However, this reportedly backfired, according to Klein piece in the Post.
“When Valarie Jarrett called Oprah Winfrey, she flatly refused to go to the White House and sent a low level representative, which was a direct slap in the face to the president,” Klein told TheBlaze.
The Post story quoted an anonymous source, identified as one of Winfrey’s closest advisers, saying: “All of Oprah’s top people thought she would go, because when the president invites you to the White House, most people automatically say yes. But Oprah said she didn’t have the time or inclination to go.”