Winfrey has played coy on the subject in the past
Her remarks have fueled speculation of a 2020 presidential bid
Oprah Winfrey’s speech rocked the Golden Globes Sunday evening, fueling speculation that the influential media mogul could have her sights set on the 2020 presidential race.
In the true fashion of a politician considering a run, she’s played coy on the subject in the past (using the word “Never!” multiple times), but Winfrey’s impassioned remarks on the #MeToo movement and forward-looking tone didn’t do much to put rest to the rumors that she could put her hat in the 2020 ring.
And according to two of Winfrey’s close friends who requested anonymity to speak freely, Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president in 2020.
A spokesperson for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on her intentions.
But Winfrey has addressed a potential run for office several times since the 2016 election.
“Now I’m thinking …”
Weeks after the election, Winfrey signaled that President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory may have been her “aha moment.”
Asked in an interview with fellow billionaire David Rubenstein whether she may be able to break the glass ceiling to be elected president, Winfrey smiled.
“I actually never thought that that was — I never considered the conversation even a possibility. I just thought, oh, oh,” she said in a December 2016 conversation with on Bloomberg’s “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations.”
She followed up, “No, that won’t be happening, but I mean, I did used to think, well gee, you had to know so much more than I thought you had to know.”
“It’s clear that you don’t need government experience to be elected president of the United States, right?” Rubenstein asked.
“That’s what I thought,” Winfrey responded. “I thought, ‘Oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough. And now I’m thinking, ‘Oh! Oh.’”
In January 2017, late night host Stephen Colbert asked Winfrey whether her friend, former first lady Michelle Obama, would run for political office.
“Never!” Winfrey exclaimed.
Colbert followed up: “Is there any other charismatic African-American woman that both sides of the political aisle really love?”
“Never!” she repeated. “Never. Never. No, no.”
“I will never run”
Winfrey strongly shut down speculation that she would run for president in June 2017 during a podcast with The Hollywood Reporter.
Asked whether she’d win in a race against Trump, she said she didn’t know, but that doesn’t matter.
“I will never have to know the answer to that, because I will never run for public office,” she said.
“VOTE of confidence”
In September, columnist John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post that Winfrey is “uniquely positioned, should she wish to commit herself, to seek the Democratic nomination for president and challenge Trump in 2020.”
Winfrey linked to the column to her 40-plus million Twitter followers, writing, “@jpodhoretz Thanks for your VOTE of confidence!”
“There will be no running for office”
Winfrey appeared on CBS’s “This Morning” in October to talk about a story she worked on as a correspondent for “60 Minutes.”
“2020, I’m wondering if you’ve narrowed down your shortlist of VP candidates,” co-anchor and best friend Gayle King joked.
“She’s lost her mind now,” Winfrey said.
But King pushed back: “People ask it all the time. Even I am now starting to think the rules have changed about running for president.”
“There will be no running for office of any kind for me,” Winfrey insisted, pivoting back to the topic at hand: “I thought you wanted to talk about my ’60 Minutes’ piece.”
“A new day”
But the strongest indication to date that Winfrey is thinking about her political future came Sunday evening as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award, speaking not about herself or any election, but about the #MeToo movement.
“What I know for sure,” Winfrey said, echoing the title of her 2011 book of life lessons, “is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.”
Her remarks took on the tone of a forward-looking campaign stump speech.
“A new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again,” she said.
CNN’s Brian Stelter contributed to this report.