Oprah floated a 2020 presidential run with Mitt Romney, book says

Romney “heard the pitch, and told her he was flattered, but that he’d have to pass,” writes the author and Massachusetts native, McKay Coppins of The Atlantic.

Oprah Winfrey with George Stephanopoulos and Arthur C. Brooks discuss "Build The Life You Want" at The 92nd Street Y, New York.
Oprah Winfrey floated the idea of a joint presidential ticket with Senator Mitt Romney of Utah in 2019, according to “Romney: A Reckoning,” a forthcoming biography. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Concerned that the Democratic field wasn’t up to the task of stopping President Donald Trump in 2020, Oprah Winfrey pitched Mitt Romney on the idea of running for president as an independent, with her as his running mate, according to a forthcoming biography of the Republican senator from Utah.

Winfrey floated the unusual joint ticket in a phone call she placed to Romney’s wife, Ann, in November 2019, according to an excerpt from the book, “Romney: A Reckoning,” that was shared with The New York Times.

Romney at least listened to the idea. (It was Oprah calling, after all.) He “heard the pitch, and told her he was flattered, but that he’d have to pass,” writes the author and Massachusetts native, McKay Coppins of The Atlantic.


Liz Johnson, an aide to Romney, declined to comment Monday. A spokesperson for Winfrey said in a statement that she had urged Romney to run, but not with her.

“In November 2019, Ms. Winfrey called Senator Romney to encourage him to run on an independent ticket,” the statement said. “She was not calling to be part of the ticket and was never considering running herself.”

The book was based on hours of interviews with Romney, as well as emails, texts and journals that the senator had been saving to potentially write a memoir. Realizing he could not be objective about himself, Romney has said he chose to have a journalist write about him instead.

Winfrey’s interest in forming an independent ticket with Romney, which was reported Monday by Axios, is among several dishy items from the book, which is to be released Oct. 24.

She has known the Romneys since 2012, when she interviewed them at their lakeside home in New Hampshire as Romney was running for president. Winfrey had also seen Ann Romney at various social events, and was “especially fond” of her, according to the book.

On the phone with Ann Romney, Winfrey explained that Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, was preparing to enter the race and had approached her about joining his ticket. Before she decided, she wanted to gauge Romney’s interest.


She doubted that Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg could beat Trump and was “certain” that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., could not, according to the book.

Ann Romney responded that her husband would not run for president in 2020, either as a Republican or as an independent, Coppins writes. Romney also politely batted down the idea, according to the book.

An aide to Bloomberg declined to comment.

Winfrey has, at times, been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. In 2018, after she delivered a rousing speech at the Golden Globes, some were clamoring for her to run. But she told “60 Minutes Overtime” that she would not become a candidate in 2020 even though “I had a lot of wealthy men calling, telling me that they would run my campaign and raise $1 billion for me.”

“I am actually humbled by the fact that people think that I could be a leader of the free world, but it’s just not in my spirit,” she said. “It’s not in my DNA.”

Romney, 76, recently announced that he would not seek reelection in 2024, saying he wanted to make way for a “new generation of leaders.” He strongly suggested that Trump and now-President Joe Biden should also bow out, arguing that neither was effectively leading his party to confront the “critical challenges” the nation faces.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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