Winfrey tells Iowa crowd: We need Barack Obama
From Sasha Johnson and Candy Crowley
CNN Washington Bureau
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Saying she felt compelled to support "the man I believe has a new vision for America," Oprah Winfrey spoke passionately about Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at a rally in Iowa Saturday.
"These are dangerous times, you can feel it. We need a leader who shows us how to hope again in America as a force for peace," Winfrey told the enthusiastic crowd.
"I believe Barack Obama will bring statesmanship to the White House," she said. "He's a man who knows who we are and knows who we can be."
Winfrey said she has voted for as many Republicans as she has Democrats over the years, so her endorsement wasn't about partisanship.
"This is very, very personal. I'm here because of my personal conviction about Barack Obama and what I know he can do for America," she said to applause. Watch Winfrey endorse Obama »
Winfrey also told the crowd that she's looking for more than a candidate with "experience in the hallways of government."
"I challenge you to see through those people who try to convince you that experience with politics as usual is more valuable than wisdom won from years of serving people outside the walls of Washington, D.C.," she said.
Obama thanked Winfrey for drawing a big crowd and coming out to the event.
"There are some people here who are here to see Oprah. I'm sort of a by-product of that and I appreciate that, but what I know is that for her to take the risk of stepping out of her comfort zone is extraordinary," the senator from Illinois said.
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I don't expect anyone to vote for Obama because of Oprah. I just see Oprah as a way to possibly get some people who had never come to an Obama event out to see him. It's up to the Senator to seal the deal with the voter. In such a tight race, gotta use what you can to get the votes to win.