Oprah Winfrey has 2020 on her mind.
Winfrey is listening to the high-powered friends who are urging her to challenge President Trump, and her best friend, Gayle King, says she is “intrigued by the idea.”
Three other Winfrey friends told CNNMoney that the media mogul is taking the idea seriously.
“She’s listening to a lot of people who are saying: ‘You can do this,'” one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.
“I don’t know what she’ll do. She doesn’t know yet,” another source said. “But any way this plays out, this is a long game.”
A Winfrey run for president would disrupt the Democratic primary process and could present a formidable challenge to Trump.
Winfrey is not saying she’s in, but she’s not ruling it out either. Officially, her camp is declining to comment.
That’s what made King’s comments on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday so significant.
King, a co-host of the show, was in the ballroom at the Golden Globes when Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award on Sunday. Back at work on Tuesday, King praised her friend for delivering a “home run” speech but said it was not intended as a “launching pad” for a presidential campaign.
King said both, “I don’t think at this point she is actually considering it” and also, “I also know, after years of watching the Oprah show, you always have the right to change your mind.”
In past interviews, Winfrey has downplayed and sometimes outright denied interest in running for president.
But her view is evolving. King’s comment on Tuesday that “I do think she’s intrigued by the idea” is sure to stir even more conversation about the possibility.
King was quizzed by her co-hosts on “CBS This Morning.” She said she had spoken with Winfrey on Monday night.
One of King’s revealing remarks: “She loves this country and would like to be of service in some way.”
King also confirmed CNNMoney’s Monday report that some of Winfrey’s friends have been urging her to run. Furthermore, she said, they’re offering to help: “Listen, there are people who’ve said they want to be her campaign manager.”
She pointedly said that no matter what happens, she’ll remain with CBS.
The so-called invisible primary is already under way. Potential Democratic candidates are jostling for position even though the first primaries are two years away.
Winfrey’s friends have been urging her to run partly because they fear that the Democrats have a weak bench of candidates.
“If she runs, she will destroy anybody in front of her. The question is, does she want to do it?” CNN political commentator Van Jones said on “AC360” on Monday night.
“I’ve talked with a lot of people who are close to her, who are around her,” Jones said. “There’s basically bedlam in Oprah-land right now, as people are begging her, ‘Please run, please run, please run.’ She’s given no indication that she has moved off her position that she doesn’t want to do it.”
But Sunday night’s speech — celebrating the #MeToo movement and promising that “a new day is on the horizon” — was interpreted by some listeners as a political trial balloon.
One of Winfrey’s friends said she expected a reaction to the speech, but was surprised by just how intense the reaction was — how much of an emotional outpouring there was.
The speech was still being rebroadcast and dissected on Tuesday morning talk shows. And the front pages of most major papers had headlines about Winfrey campaign buzz.
The cover of the New York Post says “NOPRAH!” while the cover of the New York Daily News says “YES SHE CAN!”
But will she? That’s the question triggering hours of news coverage. Some of her colleagues wonder whether she really wants to endure the attack ads and insults.
“I hate to spoil everybody’s fun, but I don’t believe for a minute that Oprah Winfrey will run for president,” veteran Chicago media columnist Robert Feder wrote on Monday.
Feder has covered Winfrey for years. He said the Winfrey he knows “is smart enough to realize that her life is infinitely more meaningful and satisfying outside the political maelstrom.”
That may be true, but the trajectory of Trump’s presidency is influencing Winfrey’s thinking.
Winfrey has told friends she is appalled by some of Trump’s actions, but that she feels motivated to serve the country.
On CBS, King left the door open.
“I’m thinking that she is not going to be running for president. That’s what I’m thinking.” But, she added, “I do think she’s very intrigued.”
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