President Obama will bestow Presidential Medal of Freedom awards on Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton, the two public figures perhaps most responsible for his election and reelection as president.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” Obama said in a statement Thursday. But one life Winfrey and Clinton have particularly enriched is Obama’s.

Winfrey, who at the time was described as the most influential woman in the world, first endorsed Obama for president in 2006, well before the 2008 primaries even began. Her forceful and sustained effort supporting and promoting Obama played a critical role in his successful drive to rend the Democratic nomination from the favorite, Hillary Clinton.

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