Oprah Winfrey is being envisioned as the next president of the United States after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, 17 years after she was tipped as vice president by Donald Trump when he made a half-hearted bid for the presidency in 2000. But this week he declared: "I'll beat Oprah."
Trump fought a short-lived battle for the Reform Party nomination, an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats which peaked in 1996 with 8.40% of the overall vote. His politics were somewhat more liberal in those days, backing universal healthcare and openly supporting gay soldiers in the military, and he branded rival Pat Buchanan a "Hitler-lover" and an anti-Semite during the campaign.
Trump withdrew his candidacy for the Reform Party in February 2000, citing in-fighting and the fact the party could not provide the "support a candidate needs to win". Including a reference to David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump said: "So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep." Trump did win two primaries for which he was already on the ballot after he withdraw, in Michigan and California.
Trump said in 1999 that his ideal running mate would be Winfrey but withdrew his candidacy just a month before he was expected to make a formal decision.
Speaking on the Larry King Show in October 1999, when asked if he had a vice presidential candidate in mind, he said: "Oprah, I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice."
Trump added: "You know what? I tell you, she's really a great woman, though. She is a terrific woman. She is somebody that is very special."
He went on: "If she'd do it, she'd be fantastic. I mean, she's popular, she's brilliant, she's a wonderful woman. I mean, if she would ever do it. I don't know that she would ever do it."
But he also revealed that he had not given much thought to the question yet, saying: "I have not even thought about it. I guess we'll see, we'll see. Maybe that's part of the whole process."
Yet it seems Trump has erased the failed bid from his memory. Just this weekend, he tweeted that he had gone from "VERY successful businessman, to top TV star, to President of the United States (on my first try)", neglecting to mention the previous attempt.
Winfrey remained high in Trump's estimations years later - in 2012, he tweeted: "Oprah will end up doing just fine with her network - she knows how to win." However the feeling is not mutual, and Winfrey endorsed Hillary Clinton instead of Trump in 2016.
At a White House meeting on Tuesday (9 January), Trump declared "I'll beat Oprah" - although he quickly added: "I don't think she's going to run."
Talk of Winfrey for president in 2020 re-emerged on Monday after her powerful speech hailing female empowerment and the sexual harassment prevention initiative Time's Up. Social media was soon ablaze with people using the hashtag #Oprah2020 and the odds of Winfrey becoming the next president of the US were slashed to 16/1 from 89/1.
Asked about the current speculation around Winfrey's presidential ambitions, Trump said: "Oprah would be a lot of fun." He added that he knows her "very well".
Comedian Dana Goldberg tweeted: "If god forbid Trump is still here in 2020, I would love to see Oprah run against him. Nothing would be better than watching him lose to a strong black woman."
Another user said: "Why this massive #Oprah2020 moment? Because Oprah is the antithesis of Trump: A well-spoken, incredibly smart & confident black woman, who energizes people not with hatred & anger, but with hope & vision. When we hear her speak, it reminds us of who we can be as a country."
Winfrey has previously said: "There will be no running for the office of any kind for me," a sentiment repeated directly after the Golden Globes on Sunday. Yet her long-term partner Stedman Graham told the LA Times "she would absolutely do it" and CNN said she was "actively thinking" about it, according to two anonymous close friends.
The president's son, Donald Trump Jr, found an opportunity to take a stab at the media during the social media excitement, tweeting a scathing response to a now-deleted NBC tweet which, along with a photo of Winfrey, said: "Nothing but respect for OUR future president."
He said: "In case anyone had any doubts about where the media stands this should take care of it. The bias against @realDonaldTrump is now so obvious they have simply given up hiding it. Can you trust anything they say at this point?"