Candidates Court Daytime

Presidential contenders will play to largely female audiences

The 2008 presidential election is still more than a year away, but the two Democratic front-runners are stepping out in front of female audiences with appearances on Warner Bros.' Ellen and Tyra and ABC's The View this fall.

Emmy-winning Ellen DeGeneres will kick off her fifth season Sept. 3; her interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will air the next day. DeGeneres is starting her season with two shows from New York. Meanwhile, former supermodel Tyra Banks, who is permanently moving her show to New York this season, plans to tape an interview with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sept. 27. Tyra's third season premieres Sept. 10.

“The bookings came about because we pursued them,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, a division of Warner Bros., which syndicates both shows. “We really want to have the candidates on both shows this year.”

Many politicians might prefer exposure on any daytime talk show, except perhaps The Jerry Springer Show (although, he's the only talker who once was a politician). Daytime talk shows give candidates a chance to show their warmth and charm, and also get them in front of millions of women. With as many Republican and Democratic candidates vying for the nomination, daytime bookers feast on politicians for a while.

Obama and Clinton also are booked to appear live on ABC's The View, which opens its 11th season with new co-host Whoopi Goldberg. Clinton is scheduled for Sept. 12, while Obama will show up on Sept. 27, the same day his taped appearance will air on Tyra.

The View is coming off a tumultuous season in which Rosie O'Donnell's controversial comments and constant feuding with co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck made frequent headlines.

DeGeneres has had candidates on her show in the past, hosting Clinton in two appearances in fall 2005.

“Ellen has a very influential audience—a soccer mom kind of audience—that will be critical to the election,” says McLoughlin.

With her move to Manhattan, Banks is looking to explore a broader range of topics on her show, a la her talk-show role model, Oprah Winfrey.

“We want to up Tyra's game and be more relevant to our viewers,” says McLoughlin. “Tyra's show has a younger audience and that audience has become really important to the election.”

It's not unusual for candidates to make campaign stops on daytime TV—Obama got his start when Winfrey started enthusiastically pitching him as a presidential contender last September after reading his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

Disney-ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly has hosted many candidates over the years, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Edwards and John Kerrey. That show doesn't have any candidates lined up yet for this season. Nor does Winfrey.