King said she talked to Winfrey on Monday, after a day of speculation about her intentions following her speech at the Golden Globes Awards. The response was so great, it generated talk in traditional and social media throughout the day on the possibility of her running in 2020.
“I absolutely don’t think her position has changed,” King said on “CBS This Morning.” “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.”
King also tried to explain what Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, meant when he told the Los Angeles Times that “it’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.”
King said Graham thought the reporter was asking, “would she 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.”
King added, “She loves this country and would like to be in service in some way, but I don’t think she is actively considering it.”
Winfrey campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and while much of the media focus on Monday was on the possibility of her entering the race and her strengths and weaknesses, it also came with a dose of skepticism that she would actually take the plunge.
When asked about a political bid in October, Winfrey told “CBS This Morning,” “There will be no running for office of any kind for me.”
King’s comments — that Winfrey hadn’t changed her mind but was “intrigued” — did little to stop media speculation that a presidential bid is a possibility. Pundits, columnists, and political consultants have weighed in on the merits of her Globes speech, what it would take for her to launch a campaign, and the prospects of her winning.
There has even been a backlash to her speech and potential candidacy, with detractors on social media posting pictures of her with Harvey Weinstein. In addition to her speech, Winfrey signed the letter of support for the Time’s Up movement, the campaign to raise money for the legal defense of those who face sexual harassment across all industries.
Bill Kristol, the conservative columnist for the Weekly Standard, seemed to champion the idea of Winfrey for 2020 on Twitter, and later noted some of the pushback that even some Democrats have had to the idea of her running.
“I may not really be pro-Oprah. But for now at least I am anti-anti-Oprah,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
I may not really be pro-Oprah. But for now at least I am anti-anti-Oprah.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 9, 2018
Later on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked what he thought of the prospect of a Winfrey presidential bid.
“I’ll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well,” he told reporters on Tuesday. He noted that he and his family were on one of the final episodes of her syndicated talk show.
“I like Oprah. I don’t think she’s going to run,” Trump added. He again said he knows Winfrey “very well,” before repeating that he didn’t think she would run.