This image released by NBC shows Oprah Winfrey accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Oprah Winfrey’s impassioned call for “a brighter morning even in our darkest nights” at the Golden Globes has Democratic Party activists buzzing about the media superstar and the 2020 presidential race — even if it’s only a fantasy.

Even so, for Democrats in early voting states, and perhaps for a public that largely disapproves of President Donald Trump’s job performance, the notion of a popular media figure as a presidential candidate is not as strange as it once seemed, given the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star now in the White House.

“Look, it’s ridiculous — and I get that. But, at the same time, politics is ridiculous right now,” said Iowa Democratic operative Brad Anderson, a former statewide candidate who also ran President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in Iowa.

Winfrey’s speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award on Sunday touched on her humble upbringing and childhood wonder in civil rights heroes.

But it was her exhortation of the legions of women who have called out sexual harassers — and her dream of a day “when nobody has to say ‘me too’ again” — that got some political operatives, in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, thinking Winfrey might be just what the Democrats need.

Speaking backstage at the Golden Globe Awards, Oprah Winfrey says the ‘Time’s Up’ movement isn’t just for the privileged, it’s for every “culture, race, religion, politic or workplace.”

“I think we need more role models like her that are speaking to young women and trying to restore some hope. The election of Donald Trump was a devastating setback for little girls,” said Liz Purdy, who led Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary campaign.

Trump’s job approval rating sat at just 32 percent in December, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll. And though polls show his approval up slightly since, Trump is the least popular first-year president on record. He has also been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, though he has vehemently denied the allegations.

Winfrey, in September and October, publicly dismissed the notion of seeking the nation’s highest office, though she noted that Trump’s victory made her rethink the requirements of the office.

A representative for Winfrey did not reply to a request Monday for comment from The Associated Press. Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times that “it’s up to the people” whether she will be president, adding, “She would absolutely do it.”

Trump himself has lavished praise on Winfrey over the years, including in 2015, when he said that he would consider her as a running mate on his Republican ticket. “I like Oprah,” Trump told ABC News in June 2015. “I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah. I think we’d win easily, actually.”

It echoed comments Trump made in 1999, when he was weighing a presidential candidacy in the Reform Party. “If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic. I mean, she’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman,” Trump told CNN’s Larry King.

Some operatives think she has what it takes to be a viable presidential candidate.

“She would be a serious candidate,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director under President Barack Obama and the communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Beyond her rise from poverty, Winfrey’s success as a multidimensional media figure has come from promoting ways for women to assert themselves, typically outside the political arena. That could soften what Palmieri describes as an enduring resistance among some voters to women with political ambition.

“I think lessons we all learned from watching Hillary’s run, and how her ambition was unfavorably and unfairly viewed, coupled with Oprah’s existing popularity, could give Oprah a strong start,” Palmieri said.

That’s not to say Winfrey can’t claim any significant political influence. She notably headlined an Iowa rally for then-Sen. Barack Obama in the weeks leading up to his surprise victory in the state’s 2008 leadoff nominating caucuses, which helped propel him to the presidential nomination.

Still, while some Democrats would embrace Winfrey’s outsider-celebrity status as the party’s answer to Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Winfrey, like Trump, lacks any kind of experience in government.

“I think one of the arguments for Oprah is 45,” Pelosi said, referring to Trump in shorthand for the 45th president. “I think one of the arguments against Oprah is 45.”

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Steve Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report from Washington.

OPRAH RULES THE ROOM:

But with all the eloquent speeches, none roused the room like Winfrey’s, who had the crowd giving her repeated ovations as she issued a warning — not once, but three times — to powerful men who abuse women: “Their time is up! ” She ended her barn-storming speech, in which she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, with a call to young girls. “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon!” she said. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women … and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too,’ again.” Director Ava DuVernay later wrote on Twitter that the room was “still vibrating like electricity from that speech.”

STERLING K. BROWN MAKES HISTORY:

(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

While most of the talk was about progress in the sphere of gender, actor Sterling K. Brown of TV’s “This Is Us” addressed progress of a different kind: he was the first black actor to win the Globe for best actor in a TV drama. He thanked the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman, for writing a role “for a Black man that can only be played by a Black man.” What he was grateful for, Brown said, is that “I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am, and it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”

 

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For full coverage of awards season, visit: https://apnews.com/tag/AwardsSeason

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