Ten additional Democratic presidential hopefuls took to the debate stage Thursday looking to persuade American voters with health care and climate policies, ideas on immigration and taxes — and at least one vision of harnessing love.
Thursday’s debate, the last of two in Miami this week, was tense at times. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was forced to address police tensions in his city, while California Rep. Eric Swalwell was first to take a swing at former Vice President Joe Biden before Sen. Kamala Harris of California became the main takeaway of the night for confronting Biden on race and busing, a moment the senator is already cashing in on.
But it was Marianne Williamson, the 66-year-old author of books like A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution and A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles, whose political platform gained attention for her mysteriously feel-good vibes.
Despite speaking for a total of just a few minutes, Williamson quickly took the internet by storm, becoming the most-searched candidate from Thursday’s debate.
Williamson isn’t entirely new to the political arena, but she’s known best for her spirituality and connection to celebrity Oprah Winfrey, rather than her unsuccessful 2014 congressional bid.
“We need to address the deep emotional and psychological dynamics within the average citizen that have led to the erosion of our political system,” her website says. “In order to have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener.”
Williamson got about five minutes of speaking time Thursday, less time than Swalwell and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, but ahead of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, according to the New York Times.
“So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please,” she said. “You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. 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.”
But Williamson raised eyebrows when asked what her first priority would be as president. While other candidates replied with answers like gun violence and climate change, Williamson remarked that she would call the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
“My first call is to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who said that her goal is to make New Zealand the place where it’s the best place in the world for a child to grow up,” she said. “I would tell her, ‘girlfriend, you are so on,’ because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up.”
She also became a Twitter star.
“Marianne Williamson is that woman I’m always trying to dodge at a wine tasting,” said one.
“Marianne Williamson is like if one of Stevie Nicks’ shawls came to life,” said another.
She became the talk of late night TV, where The Late Show host Stephen Colbert poked fun by asking, “Has anyone tried fixing America with crystals and bee pollen?”
“That’s a pretty bold move for a candidate to say ‘I’m anti-plan, OK?'" The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah said. “Like, her vibe, I was just waiting for her at some point to be like, ‘We don’t need a plan, my friends, just give me one vial of CBD oil and our chakras will be aligned.’"
Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon paid homage with an impersonation of the candidate on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Williamson doesn’t seem to mind. At least that’s what her spokesperson, Patricia Ewing, told the Washington Post.