When television cook and personality Rachael Ray signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey's production company to host a daily syndicated talk show, she said, "People know me for my love of food, but I have so much more I want to share."
Viewers of her program today got a good look at one of the things she wants to share: Her undiluted enthusiasm for guest Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Ms. Ray devoted almost a third of today's program to Elizabeth.
Rachael expressed her admiration for Mrs. Edwards in her continuing battle with cancer and said "her speeches help inspire women across the country." She told Mrs. Edwards that her book "is a great read and you're a wonderful writer." Other sentiments from Ms. Ray included, "We all love you so much," and "I feel this connection with you."
There were giggles as the two women discussed children's eating habits, Elizabeth's first date with John, whether the couple has nicknames for one another (you'll be relieved to know they don't), and preferences in lounge wear. The audience, which gave Mrs. Edwards a standing ovation at the beginning of the segment, also applauded when Elizabeth said she liked wearing pajamas rather than sweat pants or blue jeans.
All the talk wasn't so apolitical. There was a video of a man telling Mrs. Edwards on the campaign trail: "Thank you for being so strong. We've got to get that man (John Edwards) into the White House." Not surprisingly, Mrs. Edwards concurred, saying "We do, we do."
When Mrs. Edwards spoke of her and her husband celebrating anniversary dinners at Wendy's, Rachael gushed, "These are people you can relate to!," these people being, apparently, Mr. and Mrs. John Edwards.
Moving on to more serious matters, Ms. Ray told the candidate's wife: "What a wonderful listener you are. You really understand and comprehend what people are saying to you." She then asked her what were the top three issues with which voters are concerned. Mrs. Edwards answered universal health care, the safety of their children in the military, and economic inequality. Coincidentally, all of these have served as routine talking points for her husband.
All too soon for Rachael, the segment was over. She ended by pleading with Elizabeth, "Please come back time and again! Move in! We love you. We respect you so much."
Rachael Ray's interview with Mrs. Edwards wasn't blatantly political, but it undoubtedly served well the interests of her husband's campaign. "These are people you can relate to!" Obviously you can, Rachael, but not all of us can.
What would Oprah do?