If Oprah Winfrey’s “active thinking” about a run for the nation’s top office evolves into a bid to unseat Donald Trump in 2020, there’s one clip of the pair that’s already the front-runner to be played ad infinitum.
It’s a nearly three-minute video from a 1988 interview on Winfrey’s show. In the hot seat is a blue-suited, much younger Donald Trump, espousing the same protectionist beliefs that would ultimately land him in the Oval Office.
With the microphone is, of course, Winfrey, asking Trump questions that could easily be aimed at a 2018, post-Golden Globes version of herself:
This sounds like political, presidential talk to me. And I know people have talked to you about whether or not you want to run — would you ever?
In 1988, it was another celebrity interview. But in the intervening three decades, the stars of the clip have become some of the most famous faces on the planet, and more political. One is president and has launched a reelection committee. The other endorsed Barack Obama, then Hillary Clinton, and is facing a renewed round of calls that she seek the presidency after a Golden Globes message that many have likened to a political stump speech.
Their 1988 interview happened shortly after Trump had taken out a full-page ad criticizing U.S. foreign policy. George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis were embroiled in a race for the presidency.
So Winfrey quickly steered the conversation to politics — particularly whether Trump would ever be involved in it.
He demurred with the same answer he’d given time and again:
“I love what I’m doing,” the real estate magnate said on the clip. “I really like it,” but he said he would “never want to rule it out totally, because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening with this country, how we’re really making other people live like kings and we’re not.”
Thirty years later, it is Winfrey apparently mulling whether to place her life on hold to steer the country.
The apparent reconsideration is happening after Winfrey gave an inspiring call to arms encouraging people — including “some pretty phenomenal women” — to help effect change:
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again.
As The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik wrote afterward, “Winfrey’s speech had a stump-like quality, earning raves for its inspirational tone, its careful balance of deep scars of racial and gender injustice with an optimism that they could be healed.”
Afterward, Meryl Streep told Zeitchik that she was on the Oprah train. “She launched a rocket tonight. I want her to run for president,” Streep said. “I don’t think she had any intention [of declaring]. But now she doesn’t have a choice.”
Although both Trump and Winfrey have a show-business pedigree and billionaire bank accounts, the two stars of that 1988 clip have vastly different backstories.
Trump was the fourth child of a millionaire real estate developer and was raised in a 23-room brick mansion in Jamaica Estates, Queens. He attended a military school and started his real estate empire with a million-dollar loan from his father.
Winfrey told the Golden Globes audience that she is the daughter of a woman who made money cleaning other people’s houses. Winfrey’s nationally syndicated talk show became a launchpad for a global media empire that turned her into a billionaire.
Several women have accused Trump of inappropriate sexual touching. In 2005, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about groping, kissing and trying to have sex with women in a conversation caught on a hot microphone, a recording that was later obtained by The Post.
Winfrey has spoken publicly about her sexual abuse at the hands of her mother’s friends in Mississippi, and she spoke at length about abuse victims in her Golden Globes speech.
“I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue,” she said. “They’re the women whose names we’ll never know.”