MANCHESTER, N.H. -- When Oprah Winfrey makes her first visit to Manchester for her first political rally she does draw an audience.
Around 6,000 people -- young and old and predominately female -- filled up about half of the Verizon Wireless Arena, the state's largest facility Sunday night to hear Oprah and Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate.
This was the most attended political event in recent state history. On the weekend before the New Hampshire Primary in 2004, Wesley Clark drew 3,000 with filmmaker Michael Moore. Then the weekend before the general election that year President Bush tried highly unsuccessfully to fill the Verizon Wireless Arena and the next day John Kerry held a 5,000 person rally in the streets of downtown Manchester.
The event was also remarkable for its stagecraft. Over 30 television cameras, blaring music, grand, long entrances from both Oprah and Obama with standing ovations added to the idea that something was different about this rally.
The crowd clinged to Oprah and her stories. Teenage girls shook like they saw a member of the Beatles when she was introduced to a 30 second standing ovation. But while Obama started strong he also went long -- some 40 minutes -- and some yawns were visible in the audience.
But as he closed in on his final lines he got people back to their feet.
It is still very unclear what all of this -- the crowd size and pomp -- mean for his campaign, voters, or even the retail politics reputation of New Hampshire.
Yet there was an authenticty in Oprah's voice. When she described Obama to the crowd nodded their heads.
"Ain't you tired of the old way of politics," Winfrey asked. The crowd responded "Yes."
Will they vote for Obama? Who knows.