Marianne Williamson stood on the far edge on the debate stage Thursday night and spoke for less than five minutes, but she set social media abuzz.
Williamson, a 66-year-old author and self-help guru, soared to the top of the night’s Google searches for candidates and became a trending topic on Twitter. She weighed in on the detention of migrant children, health care and climate change — yet stood out by making the case that outlining policies isn’t enough to defeat President Trump in 2020.
“It’s really nice if we’ve got all these plans, but if you think we’re going to beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming,” Williamson said. “He didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying, ‘Make America Great Again.’”
Williamson is best known for her speeches and books, including the bestselling spiritual guide “A Return to Love.” She previously served as a spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey, officiated Elizabeth Taylor’s seventh wedding and made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2014 with a campaign anthem written by Alanis Morissette.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) June 28, 2019
She didn’t win that race but attracted attention with celebrity supporters like Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and Chaka Khan. Williamson is one of many long-shot candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. She beat out three elected officials, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, for a spot at the debate.
So how does she plan to defeat Trump? With love.
“Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please — you have harnessed fear for political purposes, and only love can cast that out,” Williamson said during the debate. “So, I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field and, sir, love will win.”
Williamson’s statements earned applause from the audience, spawned dozens of memes on social media and became the butt of many late-night hosts’ jokes. Her response to a question about candidates’ first priority if elected president generated perhaps the most attention on Twitter.
“My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand, who said that her role is to make New Zealand the place where it’s the best place in the world for a child to grow up,” Williamson said. “And I would tell her, girlfriend, you are so wrong because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for children to grow up.”
MODERATOR: In one or two words, what would your first act as President be?
BERNIE: Special interests
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: I was reading a wonderful article in GOOP about New Zealand,
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 28, 2019
At another point in the debate, Williamson stood out for touting her support of reparations for the descendants of slaves, an issue many candidates have avoided forcefully endorsing.
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California was taking a swipe at South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg for his handling of a recent officer-involved shooting in his city when Williamson cut in.
“All of these issues are extremely important, but there are specifics, there are symptoms. And the underlying cause has to do with deep, deep, deep realms of racial injustice,” Williamson said. “Both in our criminal justice system and in our economic system. And the Democratic Party should be on the side of reparations for slavery for this very reason.”
Her campaign website mentions, without further explanation, “a $200 billion-$500 billion plan of reparations for slavery, the money to be disbursed over a period of twenty years.” Candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey have proposed policies that aren’t race-specific or considered reparations but could decrease the country’s racial wealth gap.
Marianne Williamson enters the spin room, asks what to do (“do I just walk?”)
She says it was her first time ever doing this, “it was tough to get anything in” in the debate pic.twitter.com/oDMNjLEx6t
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) June 28, 2019
As Williamson entered the spin room after the debate to speak to reporters, she asked what was she supposed to do. “Do I just walk?”
Williamson hopes to speak more at the next Democratic primary debate in July. She told ABC News, "I will certainly practice elbowing my way at the next one."
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