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Trump would welcome challenge from Oprah Winfrey for President

Trump spokesman welcomes possible 2020 challenge from media mogul

US President Donald Trump would gladly face Oprah Winfrey as an opponent in the 2020 presidential race, a White House spokesman said on Monday after social media buzz from her speech at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards thrust her name into the political arena.

"We welcome the challenge, whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else," Mr Hogan Gidley told reporters on Air Force One during a flight to Nashville on Monday.

"We welcome all comers."

Winfrey, 63, stole the show at the Globes with her speech upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement and lit up Twitter with a surge of tweets carrying #Oprahforpresident and #Oprah2020.

She is "actively thinking" about a run, CNN reported on Monday, citing two anonymous "close friends".

But at least one emphasised that Winfrey, long associated with Democratic politics and fund-raising, had made no firm decision.

"I don't, I don't," the US billionaire media mogul reportedly said backstage at the Globes when asked if she planned to run.

She had told CBS last October: "There'll be no running for office of any kind for me."

But the Los Angeles Times quoted Mr Stedman Graham, Winfrey's long-time partner in business and life, as saying on Sunday: "It's up to the people... She would absolutely do it."

Wearing a black gown to show support for victims, she used her platform to promote the Time's Up movement against sexual harassment and assault, throwing her support behind others who have exposed sexual misconduct in Hollywood and elsewhere in politics and the media.

"She had that room in her hands. It was like a campaign rally," said Ms Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy.

The nine-minute speech generated two standing ovations from the Hollywood glitterati and prompted 220,000 posts on social media mentioning the words "Oprah" and "president" in just 24 hours, said Mr Todd Grossman of social media analytics company Talkwalker.

After Mr Trump won the White House in 2016 with help from his fame as a reality TV star, it no longer seems far-fetched to consider a similar campaign by Winfrey, an actress, movie and television producer, and chief executive of her OWN cable channel, political analysts said.

"She's certainly a bigger celebrity than Trump ever was, especially in terms of connecting with her audience.

"Obviously this has given her an opportunity. What does she do next with it?" said Dr Alan Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University in Boston who has written on the intersection of show business and politics. - REUTERS

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