Gayle King; Oprah Winfrey (Getty/Ilya S. Savenok)

Gayle King: Oprah isn't running for president, except if she is

Oprah's best friend tried to clarify things this morning, leaving us no closer to an answer


Rachel Leah
January 9, 2018 5:05PM (UTC)

"CBS This Morning" host and best friend to Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, commented on the current buzz about Winfrey's possible presidential ambitions Tuesday morning, muddying the waters rather than clarifying them.

When asked if Winfrey had changed the mindset revealed by previous statements and was now entertaining a 2020 presidential run, King said: "I absolutely don’t think her position has changed." She then added, "I was up talking to her late last night. I do think she was intrigued by the idea. I do think that. I also know that after years of watching the 'Oprah' show, you always have the right to change your mind. I don’t think at this point she is actually considering it."

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It was a response filled with flashy verbs and lots of maybes, but brought those wondering about Winfrey's ambitions no closer to an answer.

The Oprah-for-President talks began after her moving speech during Sunday's Golden Globe Awards ceremony while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. There, she brilliantly intertwined her own journey, speaking of herself as a young black girl watching Sidney Poitier receive the same award, with those of all the women of #MeToo, including Recy Taylor, a black woman who was violently raped by six white men and had just passed away.

In a powerful conclusion to her remarks, Winfrey said:

So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that 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. Thank you.

Many on social media, clearly galvanized by Winfrey's words (and also likely desperate for someone who can defeat President Donald Trump in two years), saw in her speech hints at a 2020 presidential run. This, even though Winfrey denied any such ambitions immediately after her speech and told "CBS This Morning" in October, "There will be no running for office of any kind for me."

Still, Winfrey's longtime partner Stedman Graham told the Los Angeles Times Sunday that "it's up to the people" whether or not Winfrey will run, adding that "she would absolutely do it."

This morning, King clarified that Graham misunderstood the question and thought the reporter was asking if Winfrey would make a good president. "And he said, 'Absolutely, she would,'" King said. "That is how he interpreted the question. Because here’s the thing: Stedman would never so cavalierly say, 'Absolutely she would do it. It’s up to the people.' He would never just throw it out there like that." She continued, "She loves this country and would like to be in service in some way, but I don’t think she is actively considering it."

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Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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