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: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
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