Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The absence of Oprah Winfrey from the frantic four last days of the New Hampshire primary campaign after her heavy schedule in Iowa backing Sen. Barack Obama may be traced to heavy, unaccustomed post-Iowa abuse of the popular entertainment superstar by women.

Winfrey did not publicize it, but her Website was swamped with complaints after she went to Iowa. The principal complaint was that she betrayed women by not supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton. The criticism was described as personal.

Several of these critics identified themselves as African-Americans, indicating that gender is more important than race for many people.


Close advisers of Sen. John McCain say there is no possibility that Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman would be McCain's vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket.

McCain credits Lieberman's endorsement for president last month as triggering his turnaround in New Hampshire, leading to victory in that state's primary last Tuesday. In addition, McCain and Lieberman are friends who admire each other personally. Nevertheless, Lieberman still votes the straight Democratic line in the Senate on nearly all issues except Iraq, and McCain's advisers feel Lieberman never would be accepted by the Republican Party.

A footnote: When Lieberman endorsed McCain, Democratic friends called his office seeking reassurance that he was endorsing McCain only for the Republican nomination and not actually the office of president. No, they were told, this was a real presidential endorsement.


The politically potent presidential endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama by 60,000-member Local 226 of the Culinary Workers in Nevada, announced just after his defeat in the New Hampshire primary, was vigorously opposed by union members supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Obama had lagged behind Clinton and John Edwards in winning labor support, but the Culinary Workers may be the biggest union plum. This endorsement could swing the Nevada Democratic caucuses Jan. 19 to Obama, though the state's party establishment supports Clinton. Backing for her by Rep. Shelley Berkley, who previously said she would stay neutral, was unveiled immediately after the Culinary Workers acted. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is officially uncommitted but is regarded as a Clinton supporter, with his son, Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, heading Clinton's state campaign.

A footnote: Sen. John Kerry announced his support of Obama Thursday, waiting until his friends -- Sens. Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd -- had abandoned their candidacies. He did not worry about endorsing against Edwards, his 2004 running mate on the national ticket.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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