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Fame and celebrity

Golden Globes: Oprah Winfrey denies a run for president despite massive groundswell of support

Oprah Winfrey gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globes Awards that promised ‘a new day’ for women, minorities and the downtrodden … and the internet responded

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 10:54am

Despite excitement over her rousing Golden Globe Awards speech, in which she promised “a new day” for women, minorities and the downtrodden, Oprah Winfrey said she has no ambitions to run for president.

In a brief interview backstage at the event, Winfrey was told that “Oprah 2020” was circulating on Twitter, and asked whether she planned to run.

“I don’t – I don’t,” said the 63-year-old billionaire, who had just received the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award.

But the drumbeat is well underway.

The host of the Golden Globes, late-night comedian Seth Meyers, jokingly urged Winfrey to run in his opening monologue, noting that Donald Trump had reportedly decided make his bid for the office after he was the butt of ­Meyers’s jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011.

Electrified by her speech at the unusually politicised Golden Globes, celebrities in the audience and fans watching from home were so ready to vote Oprah into the White House that a hashtag quickly gained momentum: #Oprah2020.

“She. Is. Running,” wrote John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine. “Oprah. 2020,” wrote Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter activist.

Holding court in the VIP row of tables up front, Winfrey sat with Gayle King and Ava DuVernay, director of Winfrey’s new film, A Wrinkle in Time, their seats turned towards the stage, where word of the internet campaign reached her.

“I tried to tell her!” DuVernay said, smiling.

And at the time she played her cards close to her chest, saying: “I’m just glad I got through the speech!”

Winfrey, who is worth US$3.6 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, was the first black woman to win the lifetime achievement award.

Her speech, crafted in the spirit of the evening and delivered with a stirring and unimpeachable passion, rallied others to continue speaking up and out against injustice.

“I thought a lot about it. I wanted this to be a meaningful moment,” she said.

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In her speech she made references to the sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood and marked the recent death of Recy Taylor, whose sexual assault in 1944 became a focal point for civil rights activists.

“I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon,” she said.

“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.”

Even with Winfrey’s denial that she has presidential plans, the speculation is likely to continue.

“It’s up to the people,” her long-time partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday when asked about a presidential run. “She would absolutely do it.”

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Winfrey has long been a political figure and has had a front-row seat to presidential campaigns.

After hearing Barack Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, she brought him onto her show, befriended him and strongly supported both of his presidential bids.

Her voice periodically appears in national debates and she has never shied away from the political arena.

As Democrats cast about for a political antidote to Trump, her appeal could be strong: Winfrey has an especially strong connection to women and non-whites and her personal fortune may go a long way toward financing a presidential campaign.