Oprah Winfrey was met with a boisterous reception as she rallied support for Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) Thursday afternoon. But Winfrey had a message for those speculating that she may pursue a political bid of her own: She’s not running.
“I don’t want to run, okay? I’m not trying to test any waters,” Winfrey told the crowd in Marietta, Ga., prompting applause and some cheers of encouragement. “Don’t want to go in those waters. I’m here today because of Stacey Abrams.”
She praised Abrams as a leader who “will serve the underserved of the state of Georgia.”
The rally was the first of two the media magnate is holding for Abrams on Thursday in one of the nation’s most closely watched gubernatorial races. If elected, Abrams would become the first black woman governor in U.S. history. She faces Republican Brian Kemp, who was appearing with Vice President Pence at a trio of events in the state Thursday.
Speculation that Winfrey may pursue a White House run against President Trump has been swirling since January, when she delivered a powerful speech at the Golden Globes. Winfrey has since dismissed the notion that she would challenge Trump in 2020.
In her remarks at Thursday’s town hall with Abrams, Winfrey told the crowd that she is a registered independent, “because I don’t want any party, and I don’t want any kind of partisan influence telling me what decisions I get to make for myself.”
“I’ve earned the right to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I’ve earned the right to think for myself — and to vote for myself,” Winfrey said to cheers.
She encouraged black and female voters to go to the polls, telling the crowd that “for anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote . . . you are dishonoring your family. You are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering and their dreams when you don’t vote.”
And in a nod to the allegations of voter suppression that have marked the gubernatorial race, Winfrey told the crowd that “every single one of us has something that, if done in numbers too big to tamper with, cannot be suppressed and cannot be denied.”
“All of us may have been created equal, but if you’re woke . . . you’ve got sense enough to know that everybody is not treated equally,” she said.
At a separate appearance with Kemp on Thursday morning, Pence mocked Abrams for receiving support from Winfrey and actor Will Ferrell on the campaign trail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too,” Pence said, in an apparent reference to a line from Ferrell’s hit 2004 film, “Anchorman.”
He declared that he had “a message for all of Stacey Abrams’ liberal Hollywood friends: This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia.”