President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could beat media mogul Oprah Winfrey in a presidential contest but said he did not think the actress and talk show host would run.
Trump, speaking to reporters during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House, said he liked Winfrey, whose rousing speech at the Golden Globe awards show on Sunday night sparked speculation that she would run for president as a Democrat in 2020.
The day after Oprah Winfrey delivered a speech that thrust her into the conversation about the 2020 presidential race, Democratic strategists and activists largely agree: It’s not crazy. And she could win.
First, though, Winfrey would have to answer huge questions. Among them: Where does she stand on the issues? Is she willing to sacrifice her personal popularity and face scrutiny over how her business empire has operated?
The television star and self-made billionaire addressed the “#MeToo” moment and promised that “a new day is on the horizon” during a Golden Globes award acceptance speech Sunday night. The speech struck a chord, drawing comparisons to then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, which launched him toward the presidency four years later.
Sunday night, when her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, was asked by a Los Angeles Times reporter about Winfrey running in 2020, he said she “would absolutely do it.” On Monday, two Winfrey friends told CNN she is “actively thinking” about a run for president.
Democrats across the country said that in Winfrey they see some of the qualities they’re seeking in a 2020 nominee.
“Here’s the thing, I think, with Oprah with women that are in their 30s, 40s and 50s: She was the first kind of serious media personality who on a regular basis told our stories. She was in our living rooms, giving validity to our stories,” said Jane Kleeb, the Nebraska Democratic Party chairwoman.
Several Democratic strategists argued that Winfrey is one of the few people on Earth who could pull the focus of national media away from Trump in the heat of a presidential campaign — or “out-Trump Trump,” as one put it. Others cast Winfrey as an antidote of sorts to Trump’s brand of politics.
“I slept on it and came to the conclusion that the Oprah thing isn’t that crazy,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime top aide to former President Barack Obama. “I don’t know if Oprah would be a good president, but she would definitely be a better president than Trump.”
“Oprah is really everything that Trump pretends to be — successful, self-made, generous, charitable, beloved and the list goes on,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson.
“She would be a viable candidate not because of her celebrity but in spite of it,” he added. “She would be a viable candidate because of all she’s accomplished, because of all she’s done for people and because of what she stands for, so it’s very different from Trump.”