Oprah Winfrey insists she’s “not running” for president.
Winfrey TV set off a media firestorm Friday after tweeting a New York Post article that proclaimed her as “Democrats’ best hope” in 2020.
“She was just thanking the reporter, she is not running for office,” a publicist for Winfrey told TheWrap.
In his op-ed, Post columnist John Podhoretz praised Winfrey’s “60 Minutes” piece last Sunday and how she handled a heated debate between Michigan voters on both sides of aisle.
“Listening, asking, speaking without judgment, trying to find common ground — it was a superb performance by Oprah, and I use the word ‘performance’ advisedly,” Podhoretz wrote. “She was dazzling in exactly the way that Oprah could always be dazzling, finding a tone appropriate for the moment without being heavy-handed.”
On Thursday afternoon, Winfrey retweeted the story to her close to 40 million followers, along with a message to its author: “Thanks for your VOTE of confidence!”
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) September 28, 2017
This is far from the first time the media mogul has been pegged by pundits as an aspiring presidential candidate — and far from the first time she has demurred when confronted with rumors of White House ambitions.
“Two years ago I would have laughed and said this is ridiculous,” Jack Pitney, professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College, told TheWrap of the notion of Winfrey running for office. “But now we have a reality show celebrity in the White House, why not? Oprah Winfrey is a billionaire, too. As I understand the difference, she actually earned it.”
If she does eventually make a go of it, a recent Public Policy Polling survey offers some promising stats, finding that Oprah could become one of American voters’ favorite things: 47 percent of Americans say they’d pull the lever for Oprah, while just 40 percent would do so for Trump. Her favorables are also quite high. PPP found that 49 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Winfrey, while 33 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion.
“She is in the unique position of having a lot of money, a lot of rich friends and a massive following of people who would be glad to write her some small checks,” Pintey said. “And that makes for a powerful combo.”
Another plus: Oprah is positioned to self-fund her entire campaign. Forbes estimates her net worth at roughly $3 billion. Considering Hillary Clinton spent roughly $1.4 billion on her campaign, Oprah could write herself the check and still have plenty to spare.
Not to mention, she’s already a household name.
“If you have the name and the recognition you don’t have to raise as much, ” Howie Mandel, a prominent Los Angeles-based Democratic bundler (and not the comedian), told TheWrap. “I don’t think she’d need to fundraise.”