By Shaun Boyd
The media mogul has waffled on a bid for president for months, saying last March that she wouldn’t run for office of any kind. Then six months later, not ruling it out.
She didn’t mention politics in her speech, let alone a run for president, talking instead about racism and sexism.
But, host Seth Meyers generated the buzz when he joked about it before Winfrey took the stage.
Republican analyst Dick Wadhams says it’s no joke. “Stranger things have happened,” he said, referring to Donald Trump’s presidential win in 2016.
Wadhams says Winfrey is clearly testing the waters, something her longtime partner Stedman Graham confirmed when he told the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it,” Graham said.
“Ironically Donald Trump has opened the door to this kind of candidacy,” Wadhams said. “And I think we’re going to see this on both sides from here on out.”
But, Democratic analyst Penfield Tate suggests that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“I’d hate to see the country sort-of descend to a point where money and fame alone qualifies you to be a public servant,” he said. “Money and fame can win you an election, but as we’ve seen, it doesn’t not necessarily mean you can govern because what we’ve got right now is a hot mess.”
A Quinnipiac poll last year found Winfrey’s favorability rating was 52 percent. But, only 20 percent of those polled said she should run for president.
Wadhams says Winfrey has her work cut out.
“She certainly has reached into literally hundreds of millions of homes over the course of her career. This is the question for her and all the Democrats: can they solve their problem with working class democrats in the Midwest?” Wadhams said. “These are the voters that put Trump into office and I still don’t see how the Democrats are talking about that problem and that barrier.”
But, Tate says if it’s billionaire-celebrity Trump versus billionaire-celebrity Winfrey, she has the advantage.
“It flips the paradigm on its head because now he’s the bait and died in the wool politician. She’s not. He’s the insider – the consummate insider, he’s president – she’s the outsider. It changes the conversation,” Tate said.
The White House told CBS News that it welcomes the challenge.
Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.