These Are the Celebs and Business Billionaires Who May Challenge President Trump in 2020
It's not just Kanye West
Political experience used to be seen as an unofficial prerequisite for holding the highest office in the country. But after President Donald Trump was elected, the game has changed. Here’s a list of the celebrities and billionaires who may make a run — either seriously or jokingly — for Trump’s job in 2020.
Winfrey’s has people asking her to run for president for decades. But it was Trump’s election that opened her mind to the possibility. Previously, “I never thought about the question,” she said. “I never even considered the possibility. That’s what I thought.”
But seeing Trump, a fellow TV star, settle into the Oval Office seemed to have her rethinking the idea. “I thought, oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough,” she said in an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg. “Now I’m thinking, ‘Oh. Oh.’ ”
That line set the Internet aflutter with the prospect of an Oprah 2020 campaign. However, Gayle King, CBS This Morning host and Winfrey’s close friend, promptly shut down those rumors.
“I would bet my first, second-born and any unborn children to come, that ain’t never happening,” she said. “Never. I’ll say never on this one. Nevah, N-E-V-A-H. Nevah.”
One of the first celebrities to declare his (potential) 2020 candidacy was West, who did so long before Donald Trump had won his first primary, let alone the 2016 election. At the end of a long speech accepting the Video Vanguard award, he announced his 2020 run. “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for president,” he said.
We haven’t heard anything since from West about a potential 2020 run, but hey, it’s still early.
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, a record number of people (in particular, women, according to NPR) have shown interest in running for office. One of these people is none other than the comedian, who announced on Twitter two days after the 2016 election that he’ll be running for president in 2020.
Jury’s still out on whether or not he’s serious.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
He’s already PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive and one of the best-paid actors in Hollywood — could the White House be next? In an interview with PEOPLE after being named Sexiest Man Alive, he said that he used to joke around about running for president, but each time he suggested the idea, he got more and more serious about it.
“I used to say it jokingly but every time I was asked, it was with a real genuine interest. And it was very earnest,” he told PEOPLE. “And so I started to really think. Could I make a difference? Could I surround myself with really brilliant people to help me make decisions? Do I care about this country? And when the answers continued to come up yes, then I thought, there’s a good chance. Yeah, one day. Then we’ll do another interview like this.”
Perry was a constant presence on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton, campaigning for the eventual Democratic nominee before the primaries began.
And perhaps all that political chatter got her thinking — why don’t I run for office myself? In July 2015, she posted an Instagram with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush with the caption “42, 43, 46?!”
If Perry were to run for president, one thing is quite likely: She’d run on a pro-Planned Parenthood platform. The singer donated $10,000 to the organization after the 2016 election.
Though Hanks has never expressed any personal interest in running for office, film director Michael Moore thinks the Democratic party should try and entice him. Why? Because the American people love Tom Hanks. “Democrats would be better off if they ran Oprah [Winfrey] or Tom Hanks,” Moore told CNN after the 2016 election. “Why don’t we run beloved people? We have so many of them. The Republicans do this – they run [Ronald] Reagan and the Terminator [Arnold Schwarzenegger] and other people.”
After Trump’s divisive comments gained steam in the 2016 presidential race, Smith said that if this kinda of talk continued, he’d feel obligated to run for office.
“If people keep saying all the crazy kinds of stuff they’ve been saying on the news lately about walls and Muslims, they’re going to force me into the political arena,” he said during an appearance on CBS This Morning in October 2016. “I mean, I gotta be the president … What else would I run for?”
But for any would-be future Smith campaigners, it seems that he wasn’t entirely serious when he proposed the idea. Smith admitted to Entertainment Tonight that he was “kind of joking” when he said he’d run.
However, don’t count Smith out of politics entirely — even if he doesn’t run for president, he hasn’t ruled out running for office one day. He previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he thinks there might be a place for him in politics. “As I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me. They might need me out there.”
Bob Iger, CEO of Disney
Trump hasn’t only inspired those in Hollywood to ponder a turn in the Oval Office. Many of Trump’s fellow big business billionaires are thinking the same. For starters, Iger, the CEO of Disney, said that many people — including a number of his Hollywood pals — have encouraged him to take a closer look at entering politics, and even towards a 2020 run. “A lot of people — a lot — have urged me to seek political office,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. According to the magazine, Iger has also consulted with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg about the transition from corner office to public office.
However, it’s not a sure thing just yet: Iger has said he’s open to staying on as Disney’s CEO after his contract expires in June 2018.
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
Schultz never strayed from getting political as the CEO of Starbucks, a position he stepped down from in December 2016. He was rumored to be thinking about throwing his name into the running back during the 2016 election, but eventually confirmed that he wouldn’t do so in an op-ed in The New York Times. Then, he cited his loyalty to Starbucks, and the feeling that he wasn’t finished with his work there, as the reasons for his decision. But even as he declined running himself, Schultz encouraged those in government to work together across the aisle.
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“Despite the encouragement of others, I have no intention of entering the presidential fray. I’m not done serving at Starbucks,” Schultz wrote. “Americans who are tired of politics as usual should demand a clear answer to a simple question from every candidate: What will you do to unite all of us? The values of servant leadership — putting others first and leading from the heart — need to emerge from every corner of American life, including the business community.”
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
He’s the top guy at Facebook, which pretty much means Zuckerberg already runs the world. But does he have any plans to make it official with a 2020 presidential run? There are signs that point to yes: He set a 2017 goal of traveling to all 50 states and meeting people in each one. Sounds sort of like a campaign, doesn’t it? And a small detail from a Facebook SEC filing in April 2016 pointed at another clue that they were preparing for a potential Zuckerberg political run. It read: “Mr. Zuckerberg’s leave of absence or resignation would not constitute a Voluntary Resignation if it were in connection with his serving in a government position or office.”
Zuckerberg hasn’t commented himself on any political aspirations.
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Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Chairman of AXS TV
Cuban and Trump’s disdain for one another is notorious. Cuban was one of Trump’s most vocal critics on the campaign trail, and now, it seems he’s open to the idea of going head to head with Trump in 2020. And if it happens, Trump has himself to thank for his competitor’s enthusiasm. Cuban said that Trump’s run convinced him that you no longer need to be a “perfect” candidate to be successful.
“Well, it’s certainly more of a consideration than it was,” Cuban said during an appearance on Meet the Press in May 2016. “You don’t have to be the perfect Stepford candidate like you would’ve been in the past.”