- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2007

MONTECITO, Calif. (AP) — Oprah Winfrey rolled out the red carpet yesterday for Sen. Barack Obama and high-wattage stars invited to a gala “celebration,” expected to raise $3 million for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The most powerful woman in show business was set to celebrate her favorite candidate at her palatial estate in this coastal enclave south of Santa Barbara. Tickets to the sold-out private event went for $2,300 apiece, keeping them within campaign finance limits. Stevie Wonder was scheduled to perform for the guests, who were expected to include actors Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Halle Berry.

Earlier in the day, the Illinois senator made a quick, lunchtime stop to speak to a crowd of about 1,000 eager supporters gathered on a hillside overlooking the Pacific at Santa Barbara City College. It was his only public appearance of the day.

Mr. Obama, wearing his usual white shirt open at the collar and sleeves rolled up, shook his way down a line of outstretched hands as the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” blared from speakers.

He spoke for about 20 minutes, hitting his core themes of optimism and accountability.

“What’s called for is a level of responsibility and seriousness that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” Mr. Obama told the cheering crowd.

He talked briefly about his last trip to California in August, when he spent a morning helping a home health care worker clean a house, wringing out mops and making breakfast through a program sponsored by SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.

“Listening to her talk about the hardships of her life, talking about her struggles without a trace of self-pity … I thought, there is the essence of what America is about, this generosity of spirit,” Mr. Obama said.

Then it was off to a private luncheon and on to Miss Winfrey’s cocktail-hour shindig, where a different brand of very American generosity would be on display.

Mr. Obama already enjoys the support of Hollywood moguls such as David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Miss Winfrey’s fundraiser is another chance for him to tap California, which was his top donor state from April through June with a total take of $4.2 million.

Mr. Obama has raised more than $58 million for his White House bid. Forbes magazine estimates that Miss Winfrey, the Chicago-based talk-show host, is worth about $1.5 billion.

Miss Winfrey is a well-known fan of Mr. Obama, calling him “my favorite guy” and “my choice” on CNN’s “Larry King Live” last year before he announced he would run for president.

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