Oprah Winfrey, a television host, actress, philanthropist, publisher and producer who grew up in poverty in Mississippi, has made a habit of shattering glass ceilings. In a recent interview, Winfrey hinted she could become the first Black woman president.
David Rubenstein of Bloomberg Media asked the 63-year-old billionaire if she thinks she would ever run for the position.
“Have you ever thought that, given the popularity you have — we haven’t broken the glass ceiling yet for women — that you could actually run for president and actually be elected?” Rubenstein asked.
“I never considered the question, even a possibility,” Winfrey began, and then implied she was reconsidering the idea.
“I just thought, ‘Oh — oh?’” she said.
“Because, it’s clear you don’t need government experience to be elected President of the United States,” Rubenstein said, inferring that President Donald Trump did not have a political career prior to taking office. Trump was a businessman who also had a career in television.
“That’s what I thought,” Winfrey said. “I thought, ‘Oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough.’ … And now I’m thinking, ‘Oh.’”
— Bloomberg (@business) March 1, 2017
This isn’t the first time Winfrey has been asked if she would run for president. Most recently, in January, Stephen Colbert asked her the question on his late night talk show. She said she’d “never” run.
The Bloomberg interview suggests that Winfrey may be having a change of heart. The widely popular media mogul, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 — the nation’s highest civilian honor — does not have experience as a politician.
However, as an activist for children’s rights, Winfrey had proposed to Congress a bill to create a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. Former President Bill Clinton signed that bill into law in 1994.
And her foray in the politics of Washington deepened when she took notice of a Chicago senator — Barack Obama.
Oprah Endorses Obama
On her television show in 2008, Winfrey discussed how she endorsed former President Obama for the Oval Office before he even decide to run for the presidency.
“I was sitting alone in my house watching him do that speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. And something really came over me. I knew he was going to be president of the United States one day,” she said.
From that moment, Winfrey said, “I would do whatever I could to work for him.”
She said she started telling people then that he was going to be President of the United States.
In 2005 Winfrey invited the Obamas to her home for the Legends Ball, an event where she honored prominent African American women including her mentor the late Maya Angelou. She said she “introduced [the Obamas] to the group then, and I said, ‘He’s going to run for president one day.’”
Winfrey also said she was on the “Larry King Live” show in 2006 when “some guy was doing a petition for me to run for president.” King asked her if she would run and Winfrey said that she wouldn’t.
But Winfrey told King she was endorsing Obama, then a Chicago senator, for president before he had even declared himself a candidate.
In May 2007 Winfrey made her first endorsement of candidate Obama, and in December 2007 she made her first campaign appearances for him.
Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary/caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Race and the Presidency
In a 2013 interview with BBC about her film “The Butler” and modern racism in America, Winfrey talked about Obama’s experience as the first African American president of the United States.
“There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases — and maybe even many cases — because he’s African American,” she said.
In a BBC interview, Oprah shares her views on modern racism and how race has affected people’s views of President Obama.
She was asked if she ever thought that Obama was treated any differently because he’s Black.
“Has it ever crossed my mind?” she said. “Probably, it’s crossed my mind more times than it’s crossed your mind.
“Just the level of disrespect. When the senator yelled out, ‘You’re a liar,’ remember that?” Winfrey asked.
She was referring to South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s breach of decorum when Obama addressed a joint session of Congress in September 2009.
Winfrey said that the disrespect that was shown to Obama and his position is a bigger indication that America is not yet in a post-racial society.
“As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin,” she said, “the problem is not solved.”
In an emotional farewell address, Obama discussed American values and race in the U.S., and gave a tribute to his wife and daughters.
Similarly, in January, during Obama’s farewell address, he said:
“After my election there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic.”
Although, he added, “I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.”
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the first lady talked about her time at the White House, including the presidential election, how Congress did not support her husband and her hope for the country.
In December, former First Lady Michelle Obama was interviewed by Winfrey about her journey as America’s first African American first lady.
Their candid conversation in the White House covered topics including the presidential election, her initiatives, her hope for America and how she dealt with name-calling and negativity.
Michelle Obama confirmed she would not run for political office in the future.
“This is a hard job,” she said. “It requires a lot of sacrifice, it’s a weighty thing. The next family that comes in here, their lives will be turned upside down.”