Oprah Win­frey for pres­i­dent?

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Thomas Beau­mont and Steve Peo­ples

DES MOINES, Iowa — 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 last week 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.”

On Jan. 8, 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 Jan. 7 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, who has lauded Win­frey as worthy of the vice pres­i­dency, dis­missed her last week 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 think- ing 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.

“Peo­ple need to have hope,” said Ray Buck­ley, chair­man of the New Hamp­shire Demo­cratic Party, who en­cour­aged the idea of an Oprah run. “If it means look­ing at one of these celebri­ties that have a moral core, that are com­pas­sion and in­tel­li­gent, I think that peo­ple should look to where they can dur­ing these very, very dif­fi­cult times.”

Paul Drinkwater / NBC via AP

Oprah Win­frey makes her ac­cep­tance speech at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards cer­e­mony.

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