Oprah 2020? Winfrey's Golden Globes speech has fans dreaming of presidential run
Oprah's acceptance speech for the Cecil. B DeMille award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night has many believing she may run for President in 2020.
After the last two years, Oprah 2020 doesn't sound so farfetched, does it?
That was the vibe after Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree Oprah Winfrey gave a rousing speech at Sunday's Golden Globes, rooted in African-American history but inclusive in its promise that a new day is on the horizon for women. That kind of soaring rhetoric wouldn't be out of place at a nominating convention or a State of the Union speech.
And the media and Twitter took notice.
"Oprah Winfrey's speech embodied the best traditions of American oratory," tweeted Dan Rather. "It rang with moral clarity rooted in a march towards justice. Not blind to the distance we have traveled and the distance yet to go. It inspired — but cautioned progress will take work. This is what unites us."
Even Aaron Burr (Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr.) and writer Roxane Gay added their support via twitter for an Oprah run.
Host Seth Meyers got in on the effort to draft her, perhaps trying to balance out his karma after jokes in his 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner speech reportedly inspired Donald Trump to run for president.
“I just want to say, 'Oprah, you will never be president!' " he declared during his Globes monologue. "You do not have what it takes."
Fellow late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who's set to host the Oscars on March 4, is also on board.
"Given the choice between Oprah and our current president, I'm on the bus with Oprah, traveling the country and urging people to vote," he told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Monday. He did have one reservation: "We'd have to call her President Winfrey, and I don't know if we're prepared for that as a country."
Maybe Reese Witherspoon summed up her appeal best: "There's only one person whose name is a verb, an adjective, and a feeling. And that is Oprah."
In Winfrey, the Democrats, who have no clear frontrunners for 2020 yet, would have their very own Donald Trump: A billionaire businessperson with household name recognition with a cult-like influence who had never held public office before campaigning for the highest office in the land. Were she to run, donor checkbooks would open — not that she'd need them to.
There's just one problem: She has no plan to run for office — any office.
As recently as October, Winfrey told her best friend, CBS This Morning host Gayle King, "There will be no running for office of any kind."
And she didn't take the bait this summer when The Hollywood Reporter asked if she could defeat Trump: "I will never have to know the answer to that, because I will never run for public office.”
Sounds pretty definitive, no?
But three months and one declaration of "stable genius" later, Winfrey may have finally warmed up to the idea. On Sunday, her longtime companion Stedman Graham told The Los Angeles Times, "It's up to the people. She would absolutely do it."
During that October interview, King, who had previously said she would bet her firstborn that Oprah would never run, was changing her thinking. "The rules for running for president have changed," she said.
Winfrey, who became the first black female billionaire at age 49, is currently worth around $2.8 billion, according to Forbes. She sold part of her ownership stake in her cable network OWN to Discovery late last year, but will remain CEO through 2025. She also continues to run O: The Oprah Magazine, which is published by Hearst.
And just as she has been able to get fans to the bookstore to buy her latest Oprah's Book Club pick, she's shown the ability to influence Wall Street by sending Weight Watchers' stock price soaring with her 10% ownership stake purchase in 2015. It jumped 12.5% Monday as a result of her Golden Globes speech.
Thanks to a precedent set by Trump, she may not have to divest herself fully of those interests. But equal time rules dictate she would have to step away from her role as a correspondent on CBS' 60 Minutes (and possibly cease appearing on her TV network), as Trump had to leave NBC's The Apprentice when he ran.
Trump has yet to personally weigh in on a potential 2020 Oprah candidacy, though deputy White House press secretary J. Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One, "We welcome the challenge, whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else."
However, the future president did float the idea of a Trump/Winfrey ticket during a 1999 interview with Larry King.
"Oprah would always be my first choice," Trump said. "If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic. She’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman. I got a lot of things going, she's got a lot of things going. It'd be a pretty good ticket."
It's also worth noting that at the time, Trump was similarly disinclined to run, saying he loved his life as it was. But he offered a caveat: "I do get tired of seeing what's happening in this country and if it got so bad, I'd never want to rule it out totally."
Will history repeat itself?
Like Seth Meyers said, "Now we wait and see."