Oprah's Golden Globes speech sparks speculation about presidential bid

LINDA MOTTRAM: A billionaire media figure for US President? Well, they've already got one, haven't they?

But will there be another one in the form of Oprah Winfrey?

OPRAH WINFREY: The new day is on the horizon and when that new day finally dawns ...

(Cheers and applause)

... 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.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Just a snippet of Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes this week, where the women of course wore black and celebrities backed the 'MeToo' movement against the culture of sexual assault and harassment in their industry.

The speech immediately sparked speculation, and for some alarm, that the former TV show host, movie actor, special correspondent and very savvy business woman might become candidate Winfrey for the Democrats.

Her possible run came up at a media call with President Trump.

REPORTER: Hey, can you beat Oprah by the way?

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, I'll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well. You know, I did one of her last shows. She had Donald Trump, this is before politics, her last week and she had Donald Trump and my family. It was very nice.

No, I like Oprah. I don't think she's gonna run.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Donald Trump there.

But others worry it's a continuation of the trend, personified by the current US leader, that rejects intellectual depth and expertise should Ms Winfrey decide to run.

The indications are mixed but what happens if she does?

Jeremy C Young is assistant professor of history at Dixie State University in Utah and author of "The Age of Charisma".

Jeremy Young, thank you for your time.

Oprah Winfrey for President? You tweeted that you're glad people are finally taking her seriously as a presidential candidate for the Democrats. Why?

JEREMY YOUNG: Well, thank you for having me on and I think that Oprah Winfrey is a figure who really has been, is not only poised to run for President now but has been poised to run for President for a very long time and no-one has really realised it.

I think she's been a plausible candidate at least since 2008 when she stumped for Barack Obama in the south, in the primary and possibly even longer than that.

And I don't necessarily think that she should run but I think that she's a viable candidate and I'm glad people are finally talking about the possibility.

LINDA MOTTRAM: So what sort of a candidate would she be in terms of, I guess, campaigning but also in policy terms?

JEREMY YOUNG: I think in terms of campaigning, she would be the most charismatic presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan, without any question.

She has remarkable political abilities, watching her speak in 2008 next to Barack Obama, also a very, certainly a very charismatic figure but he looked like a potted plant next to her.

She is just unbelievable charismatic.

Now in terms of policies, there is the difficulty I think because while she is a very unique figure in terms of her charisma, she is a very conventional figure in terms of her policies.

We can infer from the various things that she's done over the past couple of decades that she's very much a conventional liberal. Her policies wouldn't be all that different from those of Hillary Clinton or indeed, of many of the Democratic candidates who are considering running in 2020 or different from Barack Obama.

So I think for Americans who are looking for that, she would be an excellent representative of it and for Americans who are looking for something different, she isn't all that different.

LINDA MOTTRAM: And there's nothing quite like the scrutiny that is applied to presidential candidates. I mean it is so intense. It is one thing to get carried away with the idea of being president but would Oprah be up to that test, do you think?

JEREMY YOUNG: I think we learned from the experience of Donald Trump that these ubiquitous celebrities, and there really aren't very many of them, Oprah and Trump are maybe two of only five or six people who have that kind of cultural reputation, that these ubiquitous celebrities, it's easier for them in some ways because they've already been exposed to the tabloids for decades, people have already made up their minds about these people's character.

So Oprah is not going to have to worry that she's going to get dirtied up and that people who like her are going to turn on her.

People have already made up their minds whether they like her or not. The question is, do they want her for their President and that's more of a stamped traditional political question.

LINDA MOTTRAM: So what about the obvious thing about her - a black woman? That would be symbolism beyond even Barack Obama's symbolism as a President.

Is that going to carry any weight, do you think, with the American public at this time?

JEREMY YOUNG: I think that certainly some Democrats would be very happy to see an African American woman as the standard bearer and I would count myself as one of those.

However, it is worth noting that Oprah is not the only African American woman considering running. Kamala Harris is also an African American woman, a Senator from California, a fairly serious potential candidate and there are several other female candidates as well as African American candidates.

So I think that it certainly could help Oprah in a primary. I think it could help her with turnout in the general election.

I also think that there are voters, just as there were when Barack Obama was running for President and for re-election who will turn very harshly or look very harshly toward an African American candidate for racist reasons and I think that Oprah would have to contend with that as well.

LINDA MOTTRAM: So, do you think she'll stand?

JEREMY YOUNG: Uh, I think it's too early to tell.

Right now I would say no but if, here's what I would say. Oprah is the Hail Mary candidate, Oprah is the candidate you run if every other candidate is going to lose.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Jeremy Young, thank you very much for talking to us today.

JEREMY YOUNG: You're most welcome. Thanks for having me on.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Jeremy C Young, assistant Professor of history at Dixie State University in Utah and the author of the book, "The Age of Charisma".

© Australian Broadcasting Company (2018)