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Oprah is latest star rumored for White House run, but does she have what it takes?

Wes Venteicher
| Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, 4:21 p.m.
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)
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)

Wide-ranging speculation Monday that Oprah Winfrey might run for president based on her Golden Globes speech Sunday night fails to account for what a grueling, unsavory undertaking a high-level political campaign is, a Robert Morris University political science professor said Monday.

"You can't just pick it up," said RMU's Philip Harold. "You would have to have really good consultants and you would have to be very, very willing to submit to what they're telling you to do, and to do it, and to endure pain unlike anything else you've ever experienced."

Oprah spoke for nearly 10 minutes after she received the Cecil B. de Mille award, discussing the significance of being the first black woman to receive the award and the hope that young women might learn from changes happening in Hollywood and in America as part of the "Me Too" movement.

"I want all the girls watching here, 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, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, 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."

CNN cited two anonymous friends of Winfrey in a Monday story saying the well-known celebrity is "actively thinking" about a 2020 presidential run.

Last October, Winfrey told "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King, "There will be no running for office of any kind for me," according to CNN.

Winfrey isn't the only celebrity rumored to be considering a White House run in 2020. Others include film star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and billionaire entrepreneur Marc Cuban, a Mt. Lebanon native who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and stars on the reality television show "Shark Tank."

While celebrities have advantages that can be translated into political success, they are often unprepared for the challenges of mounting a modern campaign, Harold said.

"The problem with celebrities is that everyone is kind of fawning over them all the time, so they're unprepared for that level of vicious, glaring scrutiny," he said.

"Donald Trump makes it look easy," he said. "As if you can just translate your celebrity into political success. It's really not that easy."

Harold recalled the 2008 presidential campaign of character actor and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee. Thompson shot up in polls but then flamed out, Harold said.

These days, candidates are constantly being filmed and photographed and their speeches and actions are closely scrutinized and criticized, creating lots of room for stress, he said.

"If you're Oprah, you have a good life, what incentive do you have to debase yourself in that way?"

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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