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

Shuswap society hosts BC contest about helping salmon spawn

Adams River Salmon Society’s contest inviting students’ ideas draws entries from across province

In Photos: The CP Rail Holiday Train rolls into Sicamous

Sam Roberts and his band headlined the rolling show which raises money for local food banks.

CSRD Wants help figuring out antique survey equipment

The piece of equipment was used by Peter Jennings to map out the North Fork Wild near Craigellachie

Busy day for Penticton Search and Rescue

PENSAR was called to three separate incidents Sunday, Dec. 16

Warm weather ahead for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada says no snow at lower altitudes until Wednesday night

Your morning news in 90: Dec. 17, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle and President Trump’s Twitter feed.

‘Spider-Verse’ swings to the top; ‘Mortal Engines’ tanks

“Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Canadians spent almost $64,000 on goods and services in 2017

Households in B.C. each spent $71,001 with housing costs contributing to higher average

Speaker at rally says Alberta oil ‘puts tofu on the table in Toronto!’

RCMP estimated more than 1,500 people attended the rally in Grande Prairie

White House closer to partial shutdown with wall demand

Without a resolution, parts of the federal government will shut down at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Most Read