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Talk of Oprah running for president captivates Democrats

In Iowa, whose caucuses are traditionally the first contest in ... And, of course, Trump, a wealthy real estate investor who later became a reality-television impresario on NBC’s "The Apprentice," had been wooed by some conservative voters going back ...

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RECOMMENDED READING By Robert Costa, Washington Post Published: January 9, 2018 Updated: January 9, 2018 at 07:13 AM window.gaPubDate = "01/09/2018"; window.gaPubHour = "07"; window.extracted_headline = null; window.extracted_authors = null; var byline = $("div.story-byline-author > > span").text().trim(); window.gaByLine = byline; if(window.authors === undefined || window.authors.length == 0){ var words = (byline.replace(",", " and ")).split( /\s+/ ); window.authors = []; var ignore = ["times", "staff", "writer", "writers", "by", "tampa", "bay"]; authnum = 0; authors[0] = []; words.forEach(function(word){ if (ignore.indexOf(word.toLowerCase()) >= 0){ return; } else if (word == "and"){ authnum++; window.authors[authnum] = []; } else{ window.authors[authnum].push(word); } }); } window.authors.forEach(function(author){ if(author.length > 0){ window.extracted_authors = window.extracted_authors || []; window.extracted_authors.push(author.join(" ")); } }); if(window.gaByLine == undefined || 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AdBridg.display('widesky1'); AdBridg.serve(); }); From Hollywood to Iowa, a sudden wave of enthusiasm for Oprah Winfrey as a potential presidential candidate swept through the Democratic Party Monday, beginning as a social-media sensation after her rousing remarks at Sunday night?s Golden Globes ceremony and escalating nationally as party officials and activists earnestly considered the possibility.The calls for Winfrey, a cultural icon and friend of former President Barack Obama, to look hard at entering the 2020 race against President Trump revealed a longing among many Democrats for a global celebrity of their own who could emerge as their standard-bearer and his foil.The clamor also exposed how the crowded class of Democrats mulling bids so far lacks a front-runner or someone who could easily unite the party?s key coalitions of women, minorities and working-class voters."Lord, we need passion and excitement," said State RepGilda Cobb-Hunter, a prominent Democrat in South Carolina, one of the early voting states in the race for the nomination"I know it?s conjecture right now, but I?d ask her to give it serious considerationIf anybody could bring us together, it?s her."Winfrey?s inner circle did little Monday to tamp down the frenzyHer spokeswoman did not respond to a request from for comment, but several people close to Winfrey said she was keeping tabs on the news coverage and appreciated the response."She?s overwhelmed by the groundswell of support, the absolute avalanche of hashtags and phone calls about running for president," said Richard Sher, a friend and former broadcasting partner who spoke with Winfrey by phone Monday.Sher added, "If she set out to do it, she?d winBut at this point?s it?s other people, not her, that?s talking about itShe?s just taking it all in and happy that what she had to say struck such a chord around the country."Stedman Graham, Winfrey?s longtime partner who joined her at the Globes ceremony, where she was receiving the Cecil BDeMille Award for lifetime achievement, whipped up speculation Sunday evening when he told a Los Angeles Times reporter that "it?s up to the people" and said Winfrey "would absolutely do it," although he did not specify what she would do.RELATED: As Oprah reportedly ?actively thinking? about presidential run, Twitter lights up over speechThere were no signs, however, that Winfrey has done anything to formally prepare for a 2020 campaign or has spoken with Democratic operativesInstead, her Globes speech was widely seen by Democrats as a visceral moment on the national stage that catapulted her into the discussion, whether she wanted to be part of it or eventually inches closer to running.That view was felt not only among Democrats watching the Golden Globes and cheering her on social media, but among Hollywood players who immediately latched onto Winfrey?s speech, putting Winfrey in the position of being courted by grass-roots Democrats and Academy Award winners.Winfrey, tracing her path from her Midwestern roots to the pinnacle of the American media, drew ovations Sunday for her message of hope amid despair, generating praise from those working to counter sexual misconduct as well as, notably, from Democrats troubled by the Trump presidencyA speech without overt political notes became a political rallying cry in an instant.Winfrey spoke with an impassioned voice of a "culture broken by brutally powerful men" and how "for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those menBut their time is upTheir time is upTheir time is up."Later, she added, "I?ve interviewed and portrayed people who?ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights."The 2020 calls came fast and fervently."She launched a rocket tonightI want her to run for president," actress Meryl Streep told the Post on Sunday"I don?t think she had any intention [of declaring]But now she doesn?t have a choice."In Iowa, whose caucuses are traditionally the first contest in the battle for the party?s nomination and have a history of thrusting unconventional candidates forward, talk of Winfrey rippled through the state.TEXT: Oprah Winfrey?s DeMille Award acceptance speech at Golden Globes"I can guarantee county chairs in Iowa would love to have a conversation with her," said Brad Anderson, who ran Obama?s reelection campaign in Iowa in 2012"People could be looking for an outsider who could heal the country, and if that?s the case, I have no doubt that Oprah would be powerful."Liz Purdy, who led Democrat Hillary Clinton?s 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary campaign, said as long as Winfrey "ran the New Hampshire way and went to Main Street after Main Street," she could have a path to victory in the state"If anyone could do retail politics right, it?d be her."While the draft-Oprah buzz struck some Democrats as a red-carpet-turned-Twitter boomlet that could quickly fade, few veteran strategists were ready to ignore the talk about her among rank-and-file Democrats, especially after Trump, who is less popular than Winfrey in polls, was able to mount an insurgent, reality-television-style campaign and win the White House.There were also questions about whether Winfrey, 63, a self-made billionaire whose groundbreaking broadcast and media career has made her an admired figure around the world, would ever be willing to take the plunge and enter a presidential race that could be polarizing and force her to tangle daily with a combative president."I have no doubt that she?s filled with a desire to make the greatest possible impact in the world," said former Obama adviser David Axelrod, who heads the University of Chicago?s Institute of Politics"But whether she would want to submit herself and her brand to this process is a real questionRunning for president is relentless, all involving, sometimes degrading and often annoying."Robert Shrum, who was worked on Democratic presidential campaigns for decades and teaches at the University of Southern California, said "media fascination," more than any particular opening in the field, was driving the interest and did not necessarily mean voters would rush to abandon the current and former officials mentioned as 2020 contenders, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, SenElizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and SenKirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y."There could be a backlash to Trump and people look for experience," Shrum said"She?d have to show that she could formulate an economic message, assemble a top campaign organization."In the past, Winfrey has said experience in elected office should not be a prerequisite for a role on the national stage."I challenge you to see through those people who try to convince you that experience with politics as usual is more valuable than wisdom won from years of serving people outside the walls of Washington, D.C.," she told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in December 2007 while rallying for Obama.Speaking to Bloomberg television last year, Winfrey said, when asked about running for president, that she "never considered the question even a possibility," but Trump?s election prompted her to reconsider."I thought, ?Oh gee, I don?t have the experience, I don?t know enough,?" Winfrey said"And now I?m thinking, ?Oh.? "The crop of expected 202

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