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Watch: Oprah Invokes Lynching, Oppression in Campaign Speech for Stacey Abrams

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In a Thursday speech in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, Oprah Winfrey urged voters to make history by backing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in next week’s election, saying she refuses to allow the sacrifices of those who were “lynched” and “oppressed” to be “in vain.”

Abrams is locked in a tight race with her Republican rival, Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp, as she tries to become the nation’s first black female governor.

Oprah Winfrey praised Abrams as a “change-maker” who represents the values of all Georgians. The talk show icon, who rarely makes political endorsements, drew cheers when she said she’s a registered independent who was not in Georgia at anyone’s request.

“I paid to come here myself, and I approved this message,” Winfrey said, explaining that she tracked down Abrams’ cell phone number and called her to say she wanted to offer assistance in the final days of the campaign.

“I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed,” Winfrey told attendees at the Cobb Civic Center Jennie T. Anderson Theatre. “I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.”

The Georgia governor’s race is one of the most closely watched campaigns in the nation and is attracting top surrogates from both parties in the final days before the election. Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Kemp earlier Thursday, while President Donald Trump will be in the state this weekend. “I heard Oprah is in town today,” Pence said at today’s rally. “I heard Will Ferrell was going door-to-door the other day. I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too.”

“And I’ve got a message for all of Stacey Abrams’s liberal Hollywood friends: This ain’t Hollywood,” Pence added “This is Georgia and Georgia wants a governor that’s going to put Georgia values and Georgia first. And Brian Kemp is going to do just that.”

Former President Barack Obama will campaign for Abrams at Forbes Arena at Morehouse College on Friday.

A Fox 5-Atlanta poll published Tuesday shows the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in a statistical tie with Kemp, while the Cook Political Report is characterizing the race as a “toss-up.” More than 1.5 million Georgians already have cast ballots.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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