According to Variety, Oprah Winfrey returned to the campaign trail on Thursday for Stacy Abrams, a Democrat who is running for governor of Georgia, and touched on one of the major issues of the campaign: voting rights.
“I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed,” Winfrey told a crowd at the Cobb Civic Center Jennie T. Anderson Theatre in Marietta, Ga. “I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.”
Abrams’ Republican opponent, Brian Kemp — Georgia’s secretary of state — has been challenged for his decision to freeze some 50,000 voter applications. Abrams’ campaign has called on him to resign, while he has said that it is a manufactured problem at a time when registration is at a record high.
Winfrey again denied that she had an interest in mounting a campaign of her own. Earlier this year, her speech at the Golden Globes triggered speculation that she was interested in running for president in 2020.
“I’m not here because I’m making some grandstand, I’m thinking about running myself,” Winfrey said. “I don’t want to run. I’m not trying to test any waters.”
Winfrey is taking a pause from her role as a contributor on “60 Minutes” as she campaigns.
In her speech, Winfrey decried “the onslaught of haters and vitriol exploding” against Abrams, while also condemning the level of political discourse.
“You keep standing strong for the values that matter to me and the values that matter to Georgians all over this state,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey campaign for Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign, but pulled back a bit in the 2012 and 2016 election cycles.
She told the crowd that she was registered as an independent. “I am an independent woman. I have earned the right to do exactly what I want to do,” she said.
Winfrey added, “Nobody paid me to come here. Nobody asked me to come here. I came for myself, and I approve this message.”
She later sat with Abrams for a Q&A session, in which the candidate answered questions about issues like healthcare and education. One of the central proposals in her campaign is to extend the Medicaid expansion to the state. Abrams also talked about how she ran, despite people telling her that she could not because she holds more than $200,000 in tax, credit card, and student loan debt.
Abrams told Winfrey, “I think I’m going to win. Leadership is about being willing to take the risk, not knowing if you’ll get the reward”
Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Kemp on Thursday, and made reference to Abrams’ celebrity support. “I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too.” Ferrell went canvassing door-to-door for Abrams last week.