Oprah Winfrey accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

Oprah in 2020? Friends send mixed messages on her future

Gayle King: ‘She loves this country … but I don’t think she’s actively considering it at this time’

As Democrats nationwide encourage Oprah Winfrey to seek the presidency in 2020, those closest to the media mogul are sending mixed messages about her political intentions.

Her best friend, CBS News host Gayle King, said Tuesday that Winfrey is “intrigued” by the idea of a White House bid.

“She loves this country and would like to be of service in some way, but I don’t think she’s actively considering it at this time,” King said, noting that she spoke to Winfrey at length the night before. “I also know that after years of watching the Oprah show, you always have the right to change your mind.”

READ MORE: Oprah, ‘Three Billboards’ triumph at black-draped Globes

READ MORE: Oprah Winfrey and more attend B.C. Miracle Concert

On Monday, Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times that “it’s up to the people” whether she will be president, adding, “She would absolutely do it.”

The presidential buzz follows Winfrey’s impassioned call for “a brighter morning even in our darkest nights” at the Golden Globes on Sunday night in a speech that left some viewers contemplating the idea of the Democratic Party embracing a celebrity candidate of its own to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. Trump, of course, was little more than a businessman-turned-reality-television-star before his extraordinary political rise.

Trump, who has lauded Winfrey as worthy of the vice presidency, dismissed her Tuesday as a threat, albeit cordially.

“I’ll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well,” Trump said at the White House as he met with lawmakers to discuss immigration. “I like Oprah. I don’t think she’s going to run.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Winfrey, like Trump, lacks any kind of governing experience.

“I think one of the arguments for Oprah is 45,” Pelosi said, referring to Trump in shorthand for the 45th president. “I think one of the arguments against Oprah is 45.”

Even so, for Democrats in early voting states, and perhaps for a public that largely disapproves of Trump’s job performance, the notion of a popular media figure as a presidential candidate is not as strange as it once seemed.

“Look, it’s ridiculous — and I get that,” said Brad Anderson, Barack Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign director, who supports the idea of Winfrey running. “At the same time, politics is ridiculous right now.”

Winfrey’s speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award touched on her humble upbringing and childhood wonder in civil rights heroes.

But it was her exhortation of the legions of women who have called out sexual harassers — and her dream of a day “when nobody has to say ‘me too’ again” — that got some influential political operatives thinking Winfrey might be just what the Democrats need. Her appeal extended well beyond her celebrity, some said, citing her compassion, kindness and devotion to helping others as a badly needed change after Trump.

Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka endorsed Oprah’s message, if not a political future, in a tweet Monday. “Just saw @Oprah’s empowering and inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP! #UNITED.”

Trump’s job approval rating sat at just 32 per cent in December, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll. And though polls show his approval up slightly since, Trump is the least popular first-year president on record. He has also been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, though he has vehemently denied the allegations.

Winfrey, in September and October, publicly dismissed the notion of seeking the nation’s highest office, though she noted that Trump’s victory made her rethink the requirements of the office.

The 64-year-old media mogul has become a cultural phenomenon over the past 30-plus years, born into a poor home in Mississippi but breaking through as a television news and talk show personality in the 1980s. Over 30 years, she became the face of television talk shows, starred and produced feature films, and began her own network.

Thomas Beaumont And Steve Peoples, The Associated Press

Just Posted

‘Prolific offender’ pleads guilty to Nanaimo bait car theft charges

Jordan Daniel Plamondon, 27, receives six-month jail sentence

City of Nanaimo staff busy with flurry of FOI requests

City clerk says municipality on track to receive 600 freedom of information requests in 2018

Traffic routes shuffled as roadwork continues

Drive with caution through city roadwork zones or find alternative routes to avoid delays

City council won’t accept more than a two-per-cent tax increase

Financial plan amendment bylaw fails on first reading in 5-4 vote

Nanaimo paramedics part of Team Canada

Team will travel to Czech Republic next month for international competition

Nanaimo buses first to get new technology

NextRide technology will help riders pinpoint where buses are and predicted arrival times

Small aircraft touches down on Calgary street

The twin-engine plane was apparently short on fuel forcing an emergency landing

B.C.’s living wage increase curbed due to MSP cuts, child care subsidy: report

Living wage varies between $16.51 in north central B.C. to $20.91 in Metro Vancouver

Baseball teams split series, will try to settle things

VIU and UFV each won two games this past weekend, they play two more Wednesday

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

MLA Stilwell chairing B.C. Liberals’ new affordability committee

Opposition thinking about election readiness

Police look for hit-and-run suspect after senior struck

Incident occurred April 17 at about 3 p.m. at Selby and Fitzwilliam streets

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Most Read