Oprah Sounds Off on the 2020 Election: Mayor Pete Buttigieg ('Buttaboop'), Beto O'Rourke — and No, She's Not Running
"I'm sitting back, waiting to see," she told The Hollywood Reporter
“Right now, I’m studying the field,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in a cover story published Tuesday.
Winfrey, 65, said she was reading Shortest Way Home, the memoir by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and she also had Sen. Kamala Harris‘ memoir, The Truths We Hold. She’d just gotten hold of Vanity Fair‘s cover story on Beto O’Rourke (“I’d done some research background stuff on him before”) and of course already knew Sen. Cory Booker.
“So I’m quietly figuring out where I’m going to use my voice in support,” she said. (When writer Lacey Rose mentioned that Winfrey could run in 2020, she shook her head — no.)
It was Buttigieg on whom she had some opinions.
“I call him Buttabeep, Buttaboop,” Winfrey told THR with a laugh. “The name’s either going to really hurt or [really help] — I think it’s going to help, actually. Just the other day, I was at Apple with Spielberg and we were in the hallway talking …. And I said, ‘Have you heard of this Butta guy?’ He goes, ‘No, Butta-who?’ I go, ‘Buttabeep, Buttaboop. Look him up.’ ”
“I like saying “Butta,” Winfrey said in her interview, laughing. He came up again later in her talk with THR when she discussed her collaboration with Apple as part of its new streaming service.
“I don’t want to be in a daily rhythm of trying to come up with people to interview, but when there are people who are of the culture — like, last year, I would’ve wanted to sit down and have a conversation with Christine Blasey Ford,” she said. “Right now, I’d probably want to sit down and talk to Butta.”
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Buttigieg, 37, would be the first openly gay president and is one of the first openly gay presidential candidates. Despite his little-known national profile, he has received extensive media coverage in recent months — and broken through with voters, often polling in the top five group of Democratic candidates out of a field of some 20 politicians.
That includes O’Rourke, a Texas lawmaker who unsuccessfully challenged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last year in a historically close race.
In his Vanity Fair cover story last month, Winfrey was described as “practically begg[ing]” O’Rourke to run while backstage at an event in February.
Not so, she told THR.
“Oh, I do not think I practically begged him. When I read that, I thought, ‘That’s not accurate,’ ” she said. “What I was practically begging for is, “Will you tell me if you’re going to [run] in this moment right now?” Even backstage, I was saying, ‘Well, when you are going to do it, will you let me know you’re going to do it?’ Which he did not. So I’m sitting back, waiting to see. It’ll be very clear who I’m supporting.”