Oprah Winfrey "Intrigued" by 2020 Presidential Run, Gayle King Says

"She loves this country and would like to be of service in some way..." she says on CBS This Morning

By Zach Johnson Jan 09, 2018 4:05 PMTags

Last year, Oprah Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, "I will never run for public office." So, imagine her surprise when people rallied for her to run for President of the United States in 2020—all thanks to her empowering speech at the 2018 Golden Globes.

Lady Gaga and Meryl Streep have already offered their support. "It's up to the people," Winfrey's partner, Stedman Graham, told The Los Angeles Times. "She would absolutely do it."

But does Winfrey want to do it? Her best friend Gayle King discussed the possibilities on CBS This Morning Tuesday. "I do think that's interesting, because Stedman says he thought the reporter said to him, 'Would she make a good president?' And he said, 'Absolutely, she would.' That's how he interpreted the question. Because this is the thing: Stedman would never so cavalierly say, 'Absolutely, she would do it. It's up to the people.' He would never do it. I got e-mails from people yesterday that said, 'Is Stedman being strategic or is he being supportive?' He is nothing but supportive," she explained. "He would never just throw it out there like that."

To get some clarity, Norah O'Donnell re-read the quote Graham gave to the newspaper. "He did say, 'It is up to the people,'" King told her co-host. "But I'm telling you, his interpretation of the question was...He thought the reporter was saying, 'Would she be a good president?'" King then said she "absolutely" does not think Winfrey's "position has changed" since then. "I don't."

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"I was up talking to her very late last night. I do think this, guys: I do think she's intrigued by the idea. I do think that. I also know that after years of watching the Oprah show, you always have the right to change your mind," King said. "I don't think at this point she's considering it. But listen, there are people who have said they want to be her campaign manager, quit their jobs and campaign for her. She loves this country and would like to be of service in some way, but I don't think that she's actively considering it at this time." Lest anyone assume she's speaking out of turn on Winfrey's behalf, she said, "That's a change from me. It's not a change from her."

Winfrey, who made history as the first black woman to receive the Cecile B. DeMille Award, worked hard on her acceptance speech. "She knew how she wanted to start. This was the thing for her: She knew exactly what she wanted to say and she knew how she wanted to say it. She crafted the speech, she talked to an editor at the magazine, and the two of them came up with it. But Oprah put down exactly what she wanted to say. Those were all her words," King said. "Listen, she writes her 'What I Know for Sure' column every month in the magazine. She's a very good writer. We all know she's a very good talker. So, I think it was home run on many levels."

"I will say this: Being in that room was electrifying," said King, who was at Winfrey's table. "It was the right person giving the right speech at the right time. She wanted that moment to be more than women wearing black dresses in solidarity. She really did want to speak to young girls around the country. She really did want to say, 'Enough, already!' I think she delivered on al that in a very eloquent well. But will she run for president? I think it's a very intriguing idea."

If Winfrey ever were to announce her candidacy, the public shouldn't expect an announcement anytime soon. "I don't think there is such a thing as a timeline. And I'm not trying to be cute here or be mysterious, but I do think it's a very intriguing thing that she had never considered," King continued. "People say, 'Oh, yeah, she wrote that speech as a launching pad for what she wants to do.' That's absolutely not true. She worked on it, she practiced it, she rehearsed it. I was a practice audience member. And I have to say, I knew the speech was going to be powerful, just when she was reading it to time. Before, when she was there at rehearsal, they told her she had to cut three minutes out of it because it was six minutes long. They said, 'You have to cut it to three minutes.' And Oprah said, 'If it was any other night than this one, I could do that, but I don't plan on cutting it.' As it turned out, with all the applause, it went nine minutes. I think they were very pleased and producers thought that was worth going late for."

A White House pool reporter asked President Donald Trump Tuesday if he thought he could win in a race against Winfrey. "Yeah, I'll beat Oprah," he said. "Oprah will be lots of fun. I did one of her last shows. I like Oprah." However, Trump added, "I don't think she's going to run."