Donald Trump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos

‘Oprah would be a lot of fun,’ president says as speculation grows after Golden Globes speech

US president Donald Trump says he would beat media mogul Oprah Winfrey in a presidential contest, but he does not think the actor and talk show host will run. Video: Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump is expected to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month, the White House said on Tuesday, in a surprise development.

Mr Trump will fly to Switzerland for the event, which is synonymous with the world’s political and economic elite- the first time since 2000 that a sitting US president has attended the gathering in the alpine resort.

Mr Trump’s unlikely ascent to the White House dominated last year’s meeting at Davos, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping defended the merits of globalisation in a keynote speech. In contrast, Mr Trump rode to victory on an anti-globalisation, ‘America First’ policy that promised to renegotiate US trade deals and prioritise the American worker.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president “looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries, and American workers,” at the forum.

The development emerged as the US president made his first public comments on recent speculation that Oprah Winfrey may contest the 2020 presidential election following her speech at the Golden Globe awards on Sunday.

Asked by reporters about the matter, Mr Trump said that he believed he would beat Winfrey, adding that he knew her very well, and had appeared on her show.

“I’d beat Oprah,” the president said. “Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well. ... I like Oprah. I don’t think she’s going to run.”

Speculation about a 2020 White House bid by Winfrey blew up on social media and news outlets after her rousing “new day” speech at the Golden Globes awards show on Sunday night, which touched on female and black empowerment, her roots in poverty and support of those who speak up about sexual abuse and harassment.

But some media commentators also injected scepticism into the surge of excitement among fans of the former talk show star, saying the Democratic Party and the country might well reject the notion of another celebrity political novice following Mr Trump’s 2016 election.

Winfrey, long associated with Democratic politics and fundraising, has not commented publicly on the speculation.

Winfrey confidante Gayle King said earlier on Tuesday there was no change in her past position - that she is not interested in running for president.

“I do think she’s intrigued by the idea, I do think that,” she said on the CBS This Morning programme. “I also know that after years of watching The

Oprah Show you always have the right to change your mind. I don’t think at this point she’s actually considering it.”

However, CNN, citing two of Winfrey’s close friends, reported on Monday that the television and film producer and actor was actively thinking about a White House bid.

In an unusual move, Mr Trump invited cameras into a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday, during which politicians from both sides of the aisle aired their views on immigration.

Congress is racing to agree a budget package which aims to include an agreement on immigration, including a deal on ‘dreamers’ - undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children. Mr Trump is also seeking funding for his proposed wall on the Mexican border.

During a 50-minute discussion at the cabinet table which was open to the press, Mr Trump urged politicians from both sides to compromise and reach agreement.

He also said he was open to a comprehensive immigration deal, and was willing to “take the heat” politically for such a deal. His comments risk alienating his supporters, many of whom endorsed the president for his hardline views on immigration.

“You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform,” Mr Trump told members of congress, many of whom stressed that the last major effort to achieve a comprehensive immigration solution ended in failure.

On DACA - the ‘deferred action on childhood arrival programme’ also known as the ‘dreamers’ programme - Mr Trump said that most politicians wanted a solution for the plight of those who had been brought to the US as children - despite having previously announced the programme’s abolition.

Mr Trump said he was ready to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. “My position is going to be what the people in this room come up with,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for people on both sides. What I approve will be very much reliant on what people in this room come to me with. If they come to me with things not in love with I’m going to do it.”

However, he also reiterated his demands for funding for a border wall, a demand that Democrats have staunchly opposed.

Speaking shortly after the meeting, Ms Sanders said that it had been a “successful and productive bipartisan meeting on immigration reform.” She confirmed that, as part of a DACA deal, Mr Trump also wanted to close immigration loopholes.

“We believe that the wall is part of border security and that border security has to be part of this negotiation, this deal,” she said.

Winfrey first gained national fame with her TV talk show, which often focused on self-improvement and touched on previously taboo subjects like incest, rape, eating disorders and depression. She used the show’s success to build a media empire encompassing movie production, magazines, cable TV, and satellite radio, becoming one of the world’s richest women.

Winfrey also branched out into acting. She is credited with roles in nearly 30 film and TV productions, including a role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple that earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.