'Dark, psychic force': Marianne Williamson's debate performance helps her go viral

Williamson, a best-selling author who was once called the "high priestess of pop religion," was the most-searched candidate during the Democratic presidential debate in 49 states, according to Google.
6:31 | 08/01/19

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Transcript for 'Dark, psychic force': Marianne Williamson's debate performance helps her go viral
This is part of the dark underbelly of American society. The racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we're having here tonight. Reporter: She spoke for just under nine minutes. Roughly half of the airtime given to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But still, Maryann Williamson put her stamp on the second democratic debate. Heard some people here tonight, I almost wonder why you're Democrats. You seem to think there's something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people. Reporter: Her message at times may have been more cosmic than political. If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark, psychic force of the collectivized hatred, I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days. Reporter: She seemed to have piqued the interest of the audience at home. Before the debate began, Bernie Sanders was the number one searched candidate. But after, Maryann Williamson was on top. It was different T was new. Reporter: And the Republican party seemed to agree with Donald Trump Jr. And Lindsey graham saying she won the debate, though considered a long-shot candidate, polling at 1%, this marked a sizable leap forward for Williamson after her performance during the first debate. So Mr. President, if you're listening, I want you to hear me me, please. You have harnessed fear. Reporter: Three left the twit their heads. My plan is to harvest -- Reporter: This unconventional messaging is nothing new. You have to look at yourself, your own character defects, your own values, your own principles. Reporter: She is revered for thoughts on forgiveness and personal growth. She skyrocketed to fame in 1992 with a spot on the Oprah Winfrey show. If my heart's not open, I don't download the possibility on Earth as it is in heaven. I just got that in the biggest way. Yeah. That is really good, yeah. Reporter: With seven "New York Times" best-selling books, including "A return to love" and hundreds of speaking she's guided her devout fan base for the past 35 years. Maryann is a strong, powerful woman. Through my transformation, I began to listen to her lectures, and that basically just transformed my life. Reporter: We were there in January when Williamson took to the same southern California stage where she's lectured for years to announce her candidacy. At what point did you think, I might run for president? It happened in a kind of moment, and it was one of those things where the idea just popped in. You know, I'm sure this is true of everyone who's running. You have to feel a deep calling to do this or you wouldn't take it on. I think what we need in the white house is more a visionary than just a political mechanic. The presidency is primarily a role of moral leadership. We need more than anything else in America today, we need a moral and spiritual awakening. Reporter: What would you say to people who fear you may not have the grit for the highest office? Experienced politicians have led us through the greatest income inequality since 1929. We need to disenthrall ourselves from this mess merization that those who know how to run the car necessarily know where it should be driving. Reporter: Now she's taking her passionate case far beyond her fan base. She moved to Iowa earlier this year to show her full commitment ahead of a crucial caucus. I think we have a much bigger issue on our hands than just defeating Donald Trump in 2020. Reporter: But in a crowded field, she'll need to distinguish herself as the race tightens. This is an all hands on deck type of moment. Reporter: Williamson is a Progressive. Her campaign website covers her stance on immigration, gun control and climate change but is focussed on this spiritual climate of America. There's a certain level of spiritual and moral rot that has led to political corruption that has led to immeasurable human suffering. Reporter: And she thinks president trump has brought us to a crossroad. I think president trump is the logical extension and embodiment of a problematic world view that has been with us for a long time. Our political establishment made the businessman god. The desire in 2016 for change on the part of the American people was legitimate. The change agent we got is no change agent at all, except in the worst possible way. Reporter: Do you pray for president trump? I do pray for trump. We're all innocent children of god. The world is not served by president trump being not in his best mind. And I think when you pray for someone you're praying that they be returned to their right mind. Reporter: Williamson is aware of just how unconventional her aspirations are. What kind of negative feedback have you heard so far? Who is she? Who does she think she is? She has no experience in government. I'm a 66-year-old woman. I'll take on any of these people for the kind of experience I've had in my life that I think is relevant to what America needs today. Reporter: She says she's taking the inner peace she's taught for years to heart as she prepares for the uphill battle ahead. How tough is this going to be for you? I assume very tough at times. It's an emotional and psychological challenge as well as an organizational challenge and financial challenge. You have to raise so much money, but exciting to be part of the game, to be in there. I feel I'm where I should be. Reporter: For "Nightline," Marci Gonzalez in Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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