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A Candidate's Dilemma: Oprah vs. the Senate

DES MOINES-- Oprah Winfrey, meet your weekend competition: A cloture vote on a motion to proceed to the Senate energy bill.

Sen. Barack Obama is supposed to kick off a two-day tour with the talk-show goddess at a Saturday rally in downtown Des Moines scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Central time. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants Obama and the three other Senate Democrats running for president to spend Saturday morning in the Capitol, to help swing what for now appears to be a too-close-to-call procedural vote. At stake is an ambitious energy package that includes provisions to expand the use of renewable electricity sources and increase fuel efficiency for vehicles.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the vote is expected to take place around mid-morning, likely 10:30 a.m. at the latest. That gives Obama a reasonable travel window -- assuming the weather cooperates. At the moment, the Des Moines forecast for Saturday is the dreaded "wintry mix."

Sen. Chris Dodd already has cancelled four Iowa events on Thursday and Friday so he can fly back to D.C. to make another procedural vote slated for Friday, on a gigantic, subsidy-rich farm bill. Democratic Senate aides are less optimistic that even with full attendance, the legislation can reach the 60-vote threshold need to overcome GOP procedural objections (the energy bill needs 60 votes, too). But as Dodd put it, "the last thing you want to have happen," with the Iowa caucuses less than a month away, "is to miss a vote that has such a huge potential impact on this state"

No word yet on whether Dodd's Democratic competitors will make similar schedule adjustments. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joseph Biden have Iowa campaign events scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Obama is supposed to attend a benefit concert in Chicago on Friday night, then head to Iowa for what could prove to be the splashiest campaign events of the year: Oprah rallies in Des Moines on Saturday afternoon and in Cedar Rapids on Saturday evening.

Reid warned the '08 candidates last month of a potential legislative collision, with the Senate trying to wrap up its business for the year, just as the pre-Christmas campaign rush begins to peak. Obama already has learned the hard way that missing votes can make for awkward moments on the trail. Earlier this fall, he had already left town for a Democratic debate when Reid called a vote on a controversial Iran resolution. Obama opposed the measure in principle, but was hampered in his ability to criticize Clinton for supporting it -- because he just wasn't there.

"Life's all about making tough decisions," said Manley. "It gets down to the age-old question, are they presidential candidates first, or senators?"

--Shailagh Murray

By Washington Post editors  |  December 6, 2007; 3:16 PM ET
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It is proven over and over in his short time as a senator that Obama doesn't have the nerve to take on tough issues. Notice Obama is ducking votes on abortion and Iran!!! Seeking a trillion-dollar tax hike and raising the retirement age for Social Security!!!! PLAY ATTENTION IOWA! DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE!
Obama completely skipped the Senate vote on Iran. But throws mud at ALL the other senators doing their job. Take a look at his public tenure in the Illinois Legislature, where lawmakers can vote "present"?? (If you can believe that), instead of yes or no on a bill. Obama, votes "present" on SEVEN ABORTION MEASURES!!!! Unbelievable! WAKE UP IOWA! The President can't vote 'present.' Nor pick and choose which challenges he will face. This guy is afraid to make ANY decisions. LOOK AT THE FACTS IOWANS.
IOWANS the world is watching you first! SHOW THAT YOUR ARE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE, Not Americans who would see out this great country for a TV talk show host!!!
DO NOT WASTE YOUR VOTE ON OBAMA he cannot win in the general election. I vote for him is a vote for the Republican Party

Posted by: dyck21005 | December 7, 2007 6:59 AM | Report abuse

wah; wah; wah, son of a gun ya mean he might one day do the job he was elected to do,and vote on bills that are relevant to his constituent? NYah just another empty suit banging his worthless gums.

As for the Opry land specatacle; to bad, to sad, the cow will wait patiently chewing her cud outside on the House lawn where they can frolic after the business day is done.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, earning a living is such a hard thing to dooooooo.

Posted by: nightslider | December 7, 2007 4:46 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I wonder if Obama will serve his district or the country...

Posted by: nquotes | December 7, 2007 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mr RAT-THE: The fairness doctrine is no longer in force otherwise that drug addicted hypocrite Rush Limbaugh would have to give Democrats "equal time" on his show.

Posted by: aldowatts | December 7, 2007 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Did Harry Reid already endorse Clinton? Seems like it to me... Harry you have some explaining to do

Posted by: Dlarosa13 | December 7, 2007 3:15 AM | Report abuse

We know Harry Reid's son works for the Clinton campaign. We know Obama was told by Reid that there would be no more voting that day and so he went to New Hampshire and missed Kyle -Lieberman. Now, we know how afraid Clinton is of the possible Oprah surge, and so, once again, they have orchestrated this vote to prevent Obama from being at the rally or voting. It is a set-up, It is obvious. Can anything be done about it? It should be investigated. The Congress knows the Senators are campaigning. Reid can schedule the vote whenever he wants. It is deliberate. Americans are really sick of this politics as usual crap and that is why Obama is doing so well. Why don't they get a clue? They just proved Hilary was in back of the rumors about Obama's religion. How much more of this is going to be allowed?????

Posted by: anitapreer | December 7, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

To quote above: "Earlier this fall, he had already left town for a Democratic debate when Reid called a vote on a controversial Iran resolution. Obama opposed the measure in principle........"

With weather predictions of snow in Iowa, and expectations, of large crowds to hear Obama's message on Friday night along with special guest and super celebrity, Oprah, in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids Saturday, Reid acts again to deliberately hurt Obama! Disgusting. More dirty tricks! Disgusting. Obama will prevail regardless. This only steels the resolve of his supporters.

Posted by: Katy7540 | December 7, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

"...did you read about obamas college in hawaii?, about the refined and upper class perks at his snooty school?"

Apparently you didn't read about it either, because Obama did not go to college in Hawaii.

Harry Reid is really working hard to sabotage pathetic.

Posted by: naijaman | December 7, 2007 12:46 AM | Report abuse

"you guys have to be a bunch of snotty nose little kids, and this is your first campaign isnt it?"

No actually my 12th, and I'm pretty jaded. It began when I sat listening to the 1960 convention on the radio in aaaaan over-heated walk-up apartment, thrilled by Kennedy's victory over Stevenson and Kefauver, and this is the first time I've been remotely as moved by a candidate's vision since then. I've worked actively in many of them, and continue to do so this year in an early primary state. So, I and others like me really don't need lectures from the likes of skmf12.

Obama has a pretty good idea of what it takes to scuffle along day to day. As you would recall, if you've done your homework, he has a record of community organization in Chicago that no other major candidate can match. He walked away from a lucrative job in a major Chicago firm to spend his days on the street helping those who have difficulty scraping by.

Reid's trick on Kyl-Lieberman was a classic sandbag. Reid not only assured Obama that the bill wouldn't be called up the next day, he assured him it wouldn't see daylight for a considerable period of time. Obama has swallowed hard, and resisted the urge to call Reid out for that.

This smells very bad. There's no ostensible reason for calling up this vote at this time, with full knowledge that Obama has at least 3 major events that weekend - Oprah in Iowa on Saturday, SC Sunday AM and NH Sunday night. And this is the time of year when weather makes it impossible to plan with any precision.

Reid has been a disaster as a majority leader, and during this primary season, his actions alone (forget the nephew nonsense) provide a basis to question his bona fides.

Posted by: zoot1 | December 7, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

you guys have to be a bunch of snotty nose little kids, and this is your first campaign isnt it?
CUTE ! buth the truth is, neither obama or anyone else is anything but a politician, for instance, did you read about obamas college in hawaii?, about the refined and upper class perks at his snooty school?
obama, has no idea what you and i or your mothers have had to do to get by...
he's no christ, but he might be jim jones...
but than that would make you all, hmmm followers !!
i guess its cute, but really, its all about power and winning the game with obama. and all they are all a little sleazy, so try not to get yourself to brainwashed k?

Posted by: skmf12 | December 7, 2007 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Whenever the press reports that Obama missed the K/L vote they never explain about the time change or about the connection b/w Reid's family and the Clinton camp. Why not?? The American people deserve to know. Washington Post--can you report this?

Posted by: fiddle25 | December 6, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

newagent99 - They did *not* say that a vote would be held the next day, only that it wouldn't be that night (the night Obama left town). They announced the vote at around 12:15 the next day and it was held ~40 minutes later. It was physically impossible for Obama to have returned in time after the vote was announced.

Posted by: pastor_bob | December 6, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Dick Durbin should step in on this one. Harry Reid should not be pulling this crap, especially on weekends. I heard him even mention maybe being in session on Sunday. He hasn't done anything all year. He's a terrible majority leader. Billary probably told him to do it.

Posted by: GraceMN | December 6, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

It is possible that Senator Clinton is the best candidate. However, even though many may like the policies that Senator Clinton proposes, they should also consider her record, just as Senator Clinton insists.
The last Clinton Administration, when faced with the fact that protection rackets where assaulting, torturing and murdering people with poison and radiation, chose to avoid its responsibilities to incarcerate the criminals and to protect the citizenry.
Instead, they made a deal with the criminal gang stalker protection rackets to leave them alone and to consequently abandon the citizenry.
Do we want a President who sells out the citizenry for votes?
Do we want a President who sends a "crime does pay" message to society?
Would you vote for a President who signed nonaggression deals with the KKKlan or the Nazi party? Gangs that torture with poison and radiation are much like the KKKlan and Nazi Party.
We do not need a sellout President. We need a principled leader President.
If you are one of the few who do not know what the above refers to, do a web search for "gang stalking" to see the tip of the dirtberg. Please do it before you decide to reply to my post. Here let me make it easy for you:

Posted by: avraamjack | December 6, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I am going to donate to the Obama campaign to register my total disapproval of what Reid and Clinton are doing. This is the kind of dirty politics that has deprived our country of decent representation. Everyone should be mad at this. It doesn't matter who you are supporting. This kind of dirty politics discourages honest peoples from participating.

Down with dirty politics!

Independent Voter

Posted by: Sirack | December 6, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

It is strange and impolitic timing. Why cramp the higher spirit of democracy. What's a proceduaral vote compared to tens of thousands of Citizens gathered to participate in the process. - to hear a Democratic talking party faith hope and vision. These events go beyound candicay to the heart of the Democratic party's appeal and strenthen the moral force, behind what Mr. Reid is trying to achieve with this vote in the first place.
Mitt Romney just made a big soaring speech for himself, his party and the nation. In his own way he did an Obama. Sen. Ried Mr. Obama needs to reset the benchmark this weekend.

Posted by: empireport | December 6, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Reid better be careful. When Obama becomes POTUS, he may find that he may not want to become majority leader.

Reid is a snake. Don't let that grandpa looks deceive you.

Posted by: tarado2004 | December 6, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Reid is only trying to pull a vote to mess up Obama's plans. This was not planned until Obama announced Oprah would be attending some of his meetings. Now all of a sudden he is doing this. He is trying to help out Hillary and his son. That SOB.

Posted by: ethelk2044 | December 6, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I felt something like this coming when Reid was rumored to be asking for cloture on the farm bill; when it is clear he can in no way get cloture, so no one would need to bother, he's going for this.

I know Reid must be scared that all his extra perks from Corporate Lobbyists may be coming to an end, but COME ON!!! This is tantamount to sabotage! We as citizens need to demand a clean congress. If we continue to abide by playing dirty politics along with them, how can any of us ever have the government that we SENT to do our work for us??? WHO LOSES???

Posted by: maryTnurse | December 6, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Folks, getting 90% of Americans to disapprove of you requires serious effort!

At least 25% should naturally approve of the fact you got 75% to Disapprove, then you have to alienate half of them!

LOL! Now is Big Butt Oprah giving Equal air time to the opposing Candidates, or should she be getting Fired for abuse of her Show?

Posted by: rat-the | December 6, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse


Obama did clearly state before the vote that he would vote against it and that if his vote could actually make a difference he would have made all conceivable effort to be there even though Reid had rescheduled the vote after having promised not to.

Not that I actually expect you are in any way interested in anything that goes against your preconceived notions.

Posted by: moomin32 | December 6, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Reid learned his lesson from the Kyl-Lieberman vote to give more advanced notice to the candidates. There should be no problem for any Senator to be present.

newagent99 said "EVERY senator was told [by Reid] the night before [Kyl-Lieberman] that the vote would happen the next day."

Can you substantiate that? It is recorded that Reid said the vote would be put off indefinitely, and I can provide the transcript for that.

Posted by: DanFromTX | December 6, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

For the folks in Iowa this could be the deciding factor in the Dem caucus. The way things are now it seems the one to get their supporters out will be the winner. Anything to do with farming is definitely on the minds of those folks. A missed vote on this could very well be the one that causes whoever misses it to lose.

Posted by: lylepink | December 6, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

What the hell is wrong with Reid?

It's a saturday, first of all.

Why is Reid incapable of keeping a schedule?

On the Iran vote, Obama WAS THERE and the vote was postponed.
The vote got pushed off the schedule, and Reid assured Obama the Iran vote was NOT going to happen that day. Shortly after Obama left, Reid called the vote!

Now this! Obama has had the Oprah event scheduled for weeks!

Reid sucks.

Posted by: julieds | December 6, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I too think this is being orchestrated to make Obama look bad, either by missing the vote or missing Oprah. Unfortunately, even if he does show up in Washington, which I think he should because of the way they will try to use it, I can bet the vote will suddenly be 'postponed' until later in the day to make it impossible for him to get to the rally. Just goes to prove how badly the old politics need changing. Maybe Barack's very competent wife Michelle should show up with Oprah. Either way, I think the momentum is on, and there's no stopping him. People just show their true colors by trying

Posted by: katharinestavrinou | December 6, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama missed the K/L vote because raising money was more important to him. EVERY senator was told the night before that the vote wouuld happen the next day.
Obama made no attempt to get back.. after all that wouuld mean he'd have to take a stand.

as to the obama fans, every canidate has plans for iowa on saturday, not just the whineybutt obama.

Posted by: newagent99 | December 6, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Earning every Bit of that 11% Approval Rating!

Does not want to perform as a Senator, But OHHH, what an Exectutive He'll make!


Posted by: rat-the | December 6, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the Oprah even in SC, why does tihs article say the Des Moines weather?

Posted by: julian9682 | December 6, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Reid is DEFINATELY doing this on pourpose. This is more of the same Clinton crap that proceeded the Iran Kyl/Lieberman vote. Reid told him there would be no vote that night, so Obama left. As soon as he left, suddenly the Iran Vote was scheduled to take place in 40 friggin minutes.
Harry Reid's nephew runs Hillary's Nevada Operation. He has been a crappy majority leader in the Senate, and now he has picked sides in the Democratic Primary for Hillary.
I know that Obama is trying to be classy and not say anything to call out Harry on this crap in the name of Party Unity, but Harry is REALLY putting the screws to Obama. SOMEBODY in that wasteland of the Senate is going to have to Stick up for Obama.

Posted by: smcguire27 | December 6, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think after the Iran vote and this, its fair to ask, Is Reid doing this on purpose?

Posted by: julian9682 | December 6, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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