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Oprah 2020: Hot and getting hotter

Back in October, Oprah Winfrey was on CBS' "This Morning." She was asked about running for president -- or any public...

Posted: Jan 9, 2018 8:46 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2018 8:46 PM

Back in October, Oprah Winfrey was on CBS' "This Morning." She was asked about running for president -- or any public office -- at some point in her life.

"There will be no running for office of any kind for me," she insisted.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Winfrey bestie -- and "This Morning" co-host Gayle King -- was asked by fellow co-host Norah O'Donnell about Oprah's interest in running for office in the wake of her much-praised speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

"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," said King.

That position, King argued, was nothing different than what Winfrey had said last fall. "I absolutely don't think that her position has changed," King said.

That is, of course, wrong.

There is a massive difference between Winfrey saying late last year that she would never, ever run for office and King, who said she was up late Monday night talking to Winfrey, acknowledging that Winfrey "loves this country and would like to be of service in some way."

Now, King is Winfrey's closest friend and, therefore, shouldn't be expected to be a totally neutral source on all things Oprah. But, even if you read deeper into King's comments about Winfrey, it's clear that something has changed from the "never, nope, don't even ask" view she held in the past about elected office.

"I do think she's intrigued by the idea," acknowledged King. "I do think that. I also know that after years of watching the 'Oprah' show, you always have a right to change your mind. I don't think at this point she is actually considering it, but listen, there are people who have said they want to be her campaign manager, who want to quit their jobs and campaign for her."

I mean ...

Think of it this way. If King's goal -- as passed along from Oprah herself -- was to kill this speculation before it ever really got going, there's a very easy way for her to have done that.

It goes like this: I talked to Oprah last night. She's flattered by all of the attention and thrilled her Globes speech resounded with so many people around the country. But, she is a private citizen -- and she is going to stay that way. She is not now and will not ever run for president.

Done and done.

Except King didn't say that. Or anything close to that. Her comments fueled the fire rather than robbed it of oxygen. And that was, quite clearly, on purpose.

Now, here's the thing: None of the above means Winfrey is running for president. I absolutely believe King when she says that Winfrey is not "actively considering" the race.

But, "actively considering" is a very, very amorphous term. To my mind, active consideration would mean interviewing staff in early voting states, conducting baseline polling to see where you stand with the public and beginning to huddle with potential policy advisers to sketch out what sort of planks you would run on.

Oprah isn't doing any of that stuff yet. But, what she clearly is doing is thinking about whether running for president is something that truly intrigues her, whether what it might take to run and win is something she'd be willing to do.

Those sorts of preliminary thoughts -- and conversations with close and trusted friends -- are the sort of thing that lots and lots of Democrats are doing right now in advance of the 2020 campaign. Winfrey is rightly described then as mulling a bid -- in the same way that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or former Vice President Joe Biden or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is.

What Oprah has that none of them do, of course, is total and complete name recognition due to her celebrity and unlimited personal wealth to help fund a race if she decides to do it. Because of those two things, Winfrey has the luxury of lingering far longer in this pondering stage than the other names mentioned above.

And the reaction to her Golden Globes speech has to give her pause when it comes to running.

"Let me be clear, if #Oprah throws her hat in the ring, she's the front runner for the Democratic nomination," tweeted Cornell Belcher, a prominent Democratic pollster, on Monday. "If she pulls together the considerable resources to build a top notch organization in the early states - after the South Carolina primary no one will catch her."

Given those sort of predictions, Oprah would be crazy not to move off of her "no way, no how" view on running in 2020. And Oprah is not crazy.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
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