Oprah advisor to visit N.H. as she considers White House bid

  • Marianne Williamson Courtesy—

For the Monitor
Published: 1/8/2019 5:08:55 PM

Marianne Williamson sounds like she’s ready to take the next step toward running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The best-selling spiritual author and lecturer and close friend and counselor to Oprah Winfrey – who launched a presidential exploratory committee in November – will make multiple stops in New Hampshire this week, including Gibson’s bookstore in Concord at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“I started an exploratory campaign in mid-November to see what kind of support and interest there might be. And I received enough positive energy to make me feel I should take the next step,” the likely long-shot White House hopeful told the Monitor on the eve of her trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

She has strong feelings about a political system she thinks has been tarnished by greed.

“Our government has become a system of legalized bribery in which short-term profit maximization for multinational corporations is placed before the health and well-being of the American people,” she said.

“Where I feel like I can be of help is articulating what this means in ways that helps people re-engage with the political process, which ultimately is the only way that we can override and transcend what has become basically a form of economic tyranny,” she explained.

She said millions of American children go to schools without working toilets and struggle to learn in classrooms with no supplies.

America is “the only country in the world that funds our educational system with property taxes, which of course ensures that a child living in a poor home is going to have a poorer education, which will only extend the trajectory of poverty,” she said.

That next step in her quest may come on Jan. 28, when Williamson makes an announcement at the historic Saban Theater in Los Angeles, according to her campaign website.

Williamson, 66, gained fame after her first book – A Return to Love – became a best-seller and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992. She’s published 12 books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers.

She’s also known for her philanthropic work, including setting up HIV/AIDS centers and founding Project Angel Food in Los Angeles. And she’s also an activist, supporting racial justice and feminist causes.

Williamson said she’s discussed her likely White House bid with Winfrey, who herself in November said she didn’t want to run for president, ending months of intense speculation.

But Williamson said Winfrey is free to support whichever candidate she chooses.

“Oprah will support the person that she feels is best for the job and I’m sure she, like everyone else in the United States, will be spending the next year listening very deeply to everyone who is running,” Williamson said.

On Wednesday, Williamson will make stops in Portsmouth at RiverRun Bookstore at 1 p.m. and in downtown Concord at Gibson’s Bookstore at 6 p.m. On Thursday, she holds an event at Rivier University in Nashua and on Friday she’ll be at Yoga from the Heart in Laconia.

“I will be meeting some very interesting people and I’m very much looking forward to whatever contacts I can make in the state,” Williamson said. “I’m eager, I’m open, I’m enthusiastic and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be there.”

While she would be a first-time presidential candidate, she has run for office before. In 2014, Williamson launched an independent campaign to succeed retiring Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California.

She raised $2 million and won the support of some prominent Golden State Democrats as well as celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Jane Lynch. She came in fourth out of 16 candidates, grabbing 13 percent of the vote.

She acknowledged it would be a long shot to defeat such potential well-known rivals as former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

“I don’t think of myself as running against anyone. I think of myself as running with everyone,” she said. “I think it’s very healthy for our democracy and healthy for the Democratic Party that so many people will be weighing in with their ideas.”

She said she’d also spotlight climate change and race relations in a presidential campaign.

“I want to talk about race relations in the United States and taking a next step forward in a way that helps to disrupt systemic racial problems that we have today,” she said.

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