When Donald Trump announced his plan to run for president in June, few Republican strategists and cable-news media personalities gave him a serious chance to secure the party’s nomination. Many people believed that early missteps, especially controversial statements he made about Mexicans and Sen. John McCain, would sink his campaign before it could really get going. Fast-forward two months, and he continues to lead the GOP field by a wide margin. Recent polls even indicate he would be competitive in a general election matchup against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Political pundits have spent a good deal of ink and airtime trying to figure out why Republicans have flocked to Trump. Most conclude that his name recognition, immense wealth and willingness to say things that would doom a more conventional candidate have all resonated with GOP voters. Trump is by far the most famous political outsider vying for a major-party nomination in the last two election cycles. Since 2012, he is one of four Republicans without previous political experience to appear in major national polls.
That got me thinking: Is there someone on the Democratic side who could be Trump’s outsider equal?
Obviously, the candidate would need to have ties to the Democratic Party or a history of supporting progressive causes. The person would also need to be someone so rich, he or she wouldn’t be beholden to special interest groups or big-money donors. Like Trump, this person would also need to be famous enough to draw in the casual voter and have the type of instant name recognition and personal appeal most candidates spend millions to attain. That combination of personal wealth, fame, charisma and outsider status left me thinking about only one person: Oprah Winfrey.
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