"Yeah, I'll beat Oprah," Donald Trump told reporters during a meeting on immigration yesterday when asked about the media mogul's potential run in 2020.
Friends of hers reportedly told CNN that she is "actively thinking" about running for president, even though other close sources have said she has "no intention of running." And while Trump also said he doesn't think she will run, his words are telling.
Trump, by all accounts, loves Oprah as much as he loves cable news and eating cheeseburgers in bed. He has mentioned her on Twitter many times, posted her inspirational quotes, and called her brilliant, wonderful, an "inspiration for millions of women" — even going so far as to say she'd be his first VP pick before he ever ran for president.
But Trump also heaped praise on Hillary Clinton before running against her, only to throw ad hominem misogynist attacks at her on the campaign trail. Furthermore, he has a history of antagonizing Black women. In a phone call to express condolences to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson, he said her late husband Army Sgt. La David Johnson "knew what he signed up for" and reportedly didn't even say his name. He then denied Johnson's own account of the conversation and called Rep. Frederica Wilson — who was there with Myeshia Johnson — "wacky" for recounting the phone call.
"His behavior continues to show that he would go after anyone about anything. So, yes, he would go after [Oprah]," Farida Jalalzai, PhD, a political science professor at Oklahoma State University whose research focuses on women and people of color in politics, tells Refinery29.
Dr. Jalalzai's research has shown that few women have attained national leadership positions through popular elections. Asked if she thinks someone as well-known and respected as Oprah Winfrey could break this pattern in the U.S., she says, "Yes. I think it is possible that a woman of Oprah's stature could surmount these obstacles," although she couldn't think of a case globally in which a female celebrity has risen to executive office without having first established some political credentials. "Obviously, however, men have."
While Oprah doesn't exactly have a wealth of political experience, this didn't hinder Trump. However, women, and especially women of color, face bigger challenges in the public eye. "Minorities, women, and minority women in particular tend to have their credentials especially scrutinized and have to usually go out of their way to establish their credibility and prove their viability," says Dr. Jalalzai.
It's important to note that Oprah herself hasn't said anything about running for president. But Trump's dismissive attitude and remarks about women of color don't bode well for how he would treat her. File this under: Nothing is sacred anymore.