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If Obama runs, I'll campaign for him, Winfrey says

September 28, 2006

Oprah Winfrey says she is not urging Barack Obama to run for president, but wishes he would and pledged to "do everything in my power to campaign for him" if he did.

"I'm reading his book right now called The Audacity of Hope, and I think his sense of hope and optimism for this country and what is possible for the United States is the kind of thing that I would like to get behind," Winfrey said.

"It's the kind of the thing that if I were ever gonna run myself, he says all the things that I would want to say for this country."

But hold on, Oprah fans. The Chicago superstar has no plans to ever enter politics herself.

"I'm never going to run for any public office," she said.

Winfrey spoke briefly with reporters at Navy Pier after she delivered the keynote speech at a luncheon at the Women's Business Development Center's annual conference.

"I think that Barack Obama is certainly one of my favorite people in terms of his commitment and concern for the rest of the nation," she said.

Obama insists he is focusing on representing Illinois, not presidential politics. And Winfrey said she is not urging him to run.

"I'm just Oprah saying what I think," she said.

"I think he has the capability, certainly the potential to be a great leader -- not only for our state of Illinois, but for this country," Winfrey said.

"I do wish he would run. And if he would run, I would do everything in my power to campaign for him."

sfornek@suntimes.com