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Oprah in 2020? Allies send mixed messages on presidential run

A close friend Gayle King told CBS Winfrey was not running, and her position on the issue remained unchanged: she was was not interested.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2018 00:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Oprah Winfrey,Gayle King,Winfrey for President
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey speaks at a rally for then Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama in Des Moines, Iowa in December, 2007. (Reuters file)

Talk of media icon Oprah Winfrey running for the White House started even before she took the stage and set it on fire with a speech that resounded way beyond the auditorium hosting the Golden Globes. Seth Myers, the host, started it, if an inflection point was indeed needed for Sunday.

“Oprah,” Meyers said, to Winfrey sitting right up to the stage. “In 2011, I told some jokes about our current president at the White House Correspondents Dinner -- jokes about how he was unqualified to be president -- and some have said that night convinced him to run. So if that's true, I just want to say: Oprah, you will never be president! You do not have what it takes!”

By the end of the night, ‘Winfrey for President’ was trending, and was the topic Monday morning shows. TV hosts were still fired up about her speech, which was premised around the awakening post sexual abuse revelations about film mogul Harvey Weinstein, but which ended up promising a new day, rendered in the rousing style associated with former President Barack Obama.

“A new day is on the horizon,” she said, “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men …”

Speculation about Winfrey running for White House has been around for some months now. When asked if she was running, her long-time partner Stedman Graham told a Los Angeles Times reporter Sunday night, “It’s up to the people … She would absolutely do it.”

But a close friend Gayle King told CBS Winfrey was not running, and her position on the issue remained unchanged: she was was not interested.

But as Graham said, what if people want her to? Meryl Streep, a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton, wants Winfrey to run.

And so does William Kristol, who served in the George H W Bush White House and founded conservative magazine The Weekly Standard.

He sent out a string a tweets Monday hash-tagged #I’mWithHer. One of them said, “"Oprah: Sounder on economics than Bernie Sanders, understands Middle America better than Elizabeth Warren, less touchy-feely than Joe Biden, more pleasant than Andrew Cuomo, more charismatic than John Hickenlooper.”

That was the field of Democrats said to be considering a run in 2020, against President Donald Trump.

Trump himself had not said anything about the speech, and his staff were not sure if he watched. But the deputy press secretary Hogan Gidely said, “We welcome the challenge, whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else.”

But the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump did see the speech and was all praise. “Just saw @Oprah’s empowering & inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP! #United.”

That praise was roundly mocked on social media, given that her father is facing a number of sexual misconduct allegations.

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 23:13 IST