Speculation has long surrounded Disney CEO Bob Iger and a possible presidential run in 2020, and in a new interview, he says entering the race was on his mind until recently.
He told Vogue this week that though his wife, Willow Bay, hated the idea, she gave Iger permission to explore the possibility of a White House run, something he was doing until Disney’s historic acquisition of 21st Century Fox in December made that impossible.
“The thought I had was coming from the patriot in me, growing up at a time when we respected our politicians not only for what they stood for but because of what they accomplished,” Iger said in the interview. “I am horrified at the state of politics in America today, and I will throw stones in multiple directions. Dialogue has given way to disdain. I, maybe a bit naively, believed that there was a need for someone in high elected office to be more open-minded and willing to not only govern from the middle but to try to shame everyone else into going to the middle.”
Now though, his focus is on Disney, which set a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire 21st Century Fox and other entertainment and sports assets from Rupert Murdoch’s empire at the end of last year. The deal between Disney and Fox marked a historic union of Hollywood heavyweights and a bid by Disney to bolster its core TV and film businesses against an onslaught of new competitors in the content arena.
Iger’s friend Oprah Winfrey, who has garnered support for her own presidential run, said she “really, really pushed him to run for president, so much so that I said to him, ‘Gee, if you ever decide to run for office, I will go door to door carrying leaflets. I will go sit and have tea with people.'”
“Bob is one of the people I respect most in the world,” she added. “That’s a very short list. He is infinitely capable of multiple categories of expertise, and he has created an environment where you can disagree with him — and that’s not just because I’m Oprah.”
Although running for president in the next election now seems unlikely, he has spoken out politically in the last year, leaving Donald Trump’s Advisory Council in June, voicing support for athletes kneeling during the national anthem and speaking out against the president’s move to rescind DACA.
“We have hundreds of employees who are Dreamers,” he said. “They didn’t grow up in the places they were born; in most cases their entire families have left; often they don’t speak the language. They’re hardworking contributors to our company and to society, and it seems incredibly cruel to force them back.”