Declaring herself inspired to rally behind the "bold and bodacious" Stacey Abrams, Oprah Winfrey jumped into the 2018 midterm elections today, saying she wanted to be part of the historic campaign.
"I don't want to run," Winfrey said at a rally in Georgia. "I'm here today to support a change-maker."
With Aretha Franklin's "Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves," blasting behind her, Winfrey appealed to women in the state to rally behind a "Georgia warrior." Abrams "is someone who dared to believe she can change the state," Winfrey said. If elected, Abrams would be the nation's first black female governor.
Winfrey has been a part-time contributor for CBS News' "60 Minutes" but she has stepped away from that role while she campaigns. The media mogul was an active campaigner for Barack Obama in the past. Earlier this year, she said she would not run for president in 2020. "Not trying to test any waters," she said today.
She stressed that she is a registered independent, not beholden to any political party, but was called to support Abrams because she stands for issues that she cares about. "She cares about Medicaid expansion, keeping families together, and environmental protection for our children so they'll have clean water and won't be wearing oxygen masks," Winfrey said.
At a separate rally for Abrams' Republican opponent in Georgia, Brian Kemp, Vice President Mike Pence alluded to the Winfrey event and suggested it wasn't appropriate for the state's voters.
"This ain't Hollywood," Pence said. "I've got a message for all of Abrams liberal Hollywood friends."
He continued, "This is Georgia, and Georgia wants a governor that is going to put Georgia values and Georgia first."
The Georgia governor's race has gained national attention because of extreme ideological differences between Abrams and Kemp as well as allegations of voter suppression. A new NBC News/Marist College poll shows that Abrams and Kemp are virtually tied in the Georgia gubernatorial race, with Kemp leading Abrams among likely voters 46 percent to 45 percent. Libertarian Ted Metz garnered support from 4 percent of likely voters.
At the Abrams rally, Winfrey stressed that supporting the campaign was her idea. "Nobody even asked for me to come here," she said.