By Associated Press
November 1, 2018

(MARIETTA, Ga.) — In a rousing speech in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Atlanta, Oprah Winfrey urged voters on Thursday to make history by backing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in next week’s election.

Abrams is locked in a tight race with Republican Brian Kemp as she tries to become the nation’s first black female governor.

Winfrey praised her as a “change-maker” who represents the values of all Georgians. The entertainment 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 am here today because Stacey Abrams cares about the things that matter.”

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 is in Georgia Thursday to stump for Kemp and President Donald Trump will be in the state this weekend. Former President Barack Obama will campaign for Abrams on Friday.

More than 1.5 million Georgians already have cast ballots.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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