Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is still interested in combating sexual harassment and assault. But she has no desire to do so from the Oval Office.
Winfrey's stirring speech at the Golden Globes earlier this month, where she encouraged women to speak up against discrimination and break barriers, even won praise from first daughter Ivanka Trump.
And the speech inspired some to suggest that the woman who just a few years ago strongly encouraged her fans to get behind fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama could make a run for the White House herself.
“It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it,” Winfrey's longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times the day after the awards show.
But in an interview for the March issue of InStyle magazine three weeks before her speech, Winfrey said she's not interested.
I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it. [Best friend Gayle King] — who knows me as well as I know myself practically — has been calling me regularly and texting me things, like a woman in the airport saying, “When’s Oprah going to run?” So Gayle sends me these things, and then she’ll go, “I know, I know, I know! It wouldn’t be good for you — it would be good for everyone else.” I met with someone the other day who said that they would help me with a campaign. That’s not for me.”
This is pretty consistent with Winfrey's past comments expressing no interest in being the leader of the free world. But the reaction to her speech and the calls for her to run reveal some voters' mind-set — the “anybody but Trump” sentiments from large segments of Americans who overwhelmingly disapprove of Trump's job performance.
Days after her Golden Globes speech, a preliminary poll showed that the people would support Winfrey's candidacy. According to a Quinnipiac poll, she would get 52 percent of the vote to President Trump's 39 percent if she ran against him in 2020. She did particularly well with some of the groups that Trump struggles with the most, including women, blacks and Latinos.
One particular plus for Winfrey is that she used her platform to boldly address an issue — sexual misconduct in the workplace — that is increasingly relevant in politics — and that Trump, who is himself facing sexual misconduct allegations from nearly 20 women, has not really addressed
There's also the assumption that because Trump, a billionaire former reality-television star with no policy background, was able to run a competitive race, so could Winfrey, a billionaire former talk-show host with no policy background.
Ultimately, however, the majority of the respondents to the Quinnipiac survey believe that it would be best if Winfrey stayed out of Washington. Nearly seven in 10 — 66 percent — of respondents said that electing a celebrity as president is a bad idea.
As of now, it appears that American voters should redirect their focus to other candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination. But the subject might not be completely closed.
Weeks ago, King reminded viewers of her CBS show that things could change for her longtime friend. “I do think she's intrigued by the idea. I do think that,” King said. “I also know that, after years of watching the Oprah show, you always have the right to change your mind.”