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

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Good wood; Radium lumbers to top prize

Wood WORKS! BC gives honour to Radium at UBCM

Unsanitary change room conditions exposed at Radium’s hot springs pools

Health inspector felt nothing of concern posed a “serious physical or health risk”

Brewer Creek: a fall classic

Summit Trail Makers Society

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read