2020 vision

Oprah is ‘intrigued by the idea’ of running for president, Gayle King says

Former President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Oprah Winfrey as former U.S. President Bill Clinton claps in the East Room at the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oprah 2020 watch is in full swing following her rousing speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, and on Tuesday morning, perhaps one of the best sources besides the TV icon herself weighed in on the possibility that Oprah could mount a White House bid in 2020. Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey’s longtime friend and one of the anchors of CBS This Morning, discussed Winfrey’s political aspirations on Tuesday’s show.

“I do think she is intrigued by the idea,” King remarked. “I also know that after years of watching the Oprah show, you will always have the right to change your mind.” But, King added, she had spoken in-depth with Winfrey during a Monday night phone conversation and, that at this point, she doesn’t think Winfrey is ready to take such a plunge. She also noted that several people have expressed an interest in working as Winfrey’s campaign manager.

King also revealed some details about Oprah’s address at the Golden Globes, which noticeably had many of the hallmarks of a campaign speech. “Oprah crafted that speech,” King said. “She knew exactly what she wanted to say, and exactly how she wanted to say it.” King said being in the room to witness the speech was “electrifying.” However, the producers of the show wanted it to be shorter. According to King, Winfrey was asked at rehearsal to cut the speech down from six to three minutes, but she refused. “As it turned out — with all the applause — it went nine minutes,” King observed.

In this handout photo provided by NBCUniversal, Oprah Winfrey accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award speaks onstage during the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, conjecture surrounding whether Oprah will or won’t run in 2020 is hitting a fevered pitch. Some, like The New York Post’s conservative columnist John Podhoretz, are saying Winfrey represents the Democrats’ best chance at unseating President Donald Trump in 2020. In fact, in September he wrote a column laying out his argument for why that’s the case, a point he was happy to pat himself on the back for having written about months ago. Not everyone in the pundit class, however, is convinced an Oprah candidacy is what the country needs right now. Thomas Chatterton Williams, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, urged Oprah: “Don’t Do It.” Williams argued that a Winfrey presidency, should it happen, would prove to be an extension of Trumpism rather than an antidote for it. And at least one famous has gone on record as saying that she would be a better president than Oprah (and Trump, for that matter), while another said, “President Oprah has my vote.”

Other indicators about the public interest in seeing Winfrey run for president include coffee mug sales. That’s right — last summer a New York City home goods story began selling “Oprah 2020” mugs. The cups sold modestly, Business Insider notes, but sales went bonkers following her big speech at the Golden Globes.

What about Trump, who in 1999 said Winfrey would be his “first choice” as a running mate should he run for president? At a meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Tuesday, the president told reporters he’d heard about the speculation surrounding Oprah running against him in 2020. “Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah,” Trump said in response to reporters’ questions. “Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well — ya know, I did one of her last shows.” He added, “I like Oprah … I don’t think she’s going to run.”

Watch King’s full remarks on CBS This Morning below.


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