Ms. Winfrey, a television icon, film producer and actress, sparked questions about a potential run when she delivered a stirring acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes on Jan. 7.
The speech touched on racism and sexism in America and concluded on a hopeful note.
“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, 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.”
Almost instantly, her fans began wondering, only some of them in jest, if the speech was a prelude to something bigger.
Stedman Graham, her longtime partner, did nothing to dissuade them when, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, he said she would “absolutely do it,” though he prefaced it by saying that the decision was “up to the people.”
In her, some Democrats saw a candidate who could turn out crucial voters — women and African-Americans — while driving few others away.
Ms. Winfrey herself had expressed a desire to associates in recent months to play a role in uniting the country, two people briefed on her thinking told The Times. And while she may not ultimately do so by running for president, Ms. Winfrey may be able to pursue that goal through other means.
“I have to say the core of me is about conversations. Exploring the depth of our human experiences. That is what I do. That is my calling,” she told the magazine. “Whether I do that through dramas, producing stories with OWN [Oprah Winfrey Network], or one-on-one conversations that matter, I know that’s what I’m here to do.”