Monday 18 June 2018

Trump: I'd beat Oprah in a 2020 race for the presidency

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP

Ian Simpson and Jeff Mason

US President Donald Trump has declared he would beat Oprah Winfrey in a presidential race, while one of Winfrey's closest friends said the media mogul and actress was "intrigued" by the possibility of running but was not considering it now.

Speculation about a 2020 White House bid by Winfrey blew up on social media after her rousing "new day" speech at the Golden Globes awards on Sunday night, when she touched on female and black empowerment, her roots in poverty and support of those who speak up about sexual abuse and harassment.

Some commentators sounded a note of scepticism, saying the Democratic Party and the country might well reject the notion of another celebrity political novice following Trump's 2016 election.

Ms Winfrey, long associated with Democratic politics and fundraising, has not commented publicly on the speculation. Known to millions by her first name, the 63-year-old has been a cultural force in the country for decades.

Mr Trump, speaking with reporters during a White House meeting with lawmakers, said in response to a question: "Yeah I'll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun.

"I know her very well... I like Oprah. I don't think she's going to run," said the Republican president (71).

Gayle King, a confidante of Ms Winfrey, said there was no change in Winfrey's position - she is not interested in running for president.

"I do think she's intrigued by the idea, I do think that," Ms King said. "I also know that after years of watching 'The Oprah (Winfrey) Show' you always have the right to change your mind. I don't think at this point she's actually considering it."

However, CNN, citing two close friends, reported the television and movie producer and actress was thinking about a White House bid.

Ms Winfrey has raised millions of dollars for various causes, including shelters for battered women but, like Mr Trump when he launched his White House campaign, she has no prior experience in government.

The president, a businessman and former reality TV star, based part of his appeal on the fact he was truly not a Washington insider.

"NOPRAH! Do we really need another celebrity president?" read the front page of the New York Post.

A critique in Slate on Monday was headlined "Oprah? Really?" and bemoaned the "impossibly boring" current crop of major political figures, making people more likely to vote for celebrities like Mr Trump or Ms Winfrey.

Former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who was the public face of some of the Trump administration's early missteps last year, said that Ms Winfrey lacked "political infrastructure" and would have a hard time adjusting to the White House.

She first gained fame with her TV show, which often focused on self-improvement and touched on taboo subjects like incest, rape, eating disorders and depression.

Ms Winfrey used the show's success to build a media empire encompassing movie production, magazines, cable TV, and satellite radio, becoming one of the world's richest women.

She is also credited with roles in nearly 30 movie and TV productions, including a role in Steven Spielberg's 'The Color Purple' that earned her an Oscar ­nomination.

Irish Independent

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