Marianne Williamson: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidate

The author, spiritual teacher and Oprah Winfrey confidant suspended her campaign

January 10, 2020, 1:52 PM

Author, spiritual teacher and Oprah Winfrey confidant Marianne Williamson formally announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in Los Angeles on Jan. 28. She's better known for her spiritual teachings than her politics, but the woman once called the "high priestess of pop religion" told ABC News that these are serious times and, "We need deep thinking."

Out of the Running: In a farewell to supporters on her website on Jan. 10, 2020, Williamson announced that she is suspending her campaign.

"I ran for president to help forge another direction for our country. I wanted to discuss things I felt needed to be discussed that otherwise were not. I feel that we have done that," she wrote.

Name: Marianne Williamson

Party: Democrat

Date of birth: July 8, 1952

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Family: Marianne Williamson's father was an immigration lawyer and she referred to her mother as a "traditional housewife."

Education: Williamson attended public schools in Houston and spent two years at Pomona College in Claremont, California, from 1970 to 1972 where she studied theater and philosophy before dropping out in 1973.

What she does now: Williamson is a lecturer, activist, spiritual teacher and a New York Times bestselling author.

What she used to do: In 2014, Williamson ran as an independent to fill a seat in California's 33rd Congressional District. She finished fourth, despite having raised about $2 million and gaining endorsements from celebrities like Nicole Richie. Williamson also founded Project Angel Food which is a meals-on-wheels program serving the homeless community in the Los Angeles area.

PHOTO: Marianne Williamson seen on day three of Summit LA17 in Downtown Los Angeles's Historic Broadway Theater District, Nov. 5, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Marianne Williamson seen on day three of Summit LA17 in Downtown Los Angeles's Historic Broadway Theater District, Nov. 5, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP, FILE

Key life/career moments:

Williamson is best known for her first book "A Return to Love," which skyrocketed to prominence in 1992 after a life-changing appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The book quickly became a No. 1 New York Times' bestseller after Winfrey claimed reading the self-help book resulted in her experiencing "157 miracles." Williamson has continued to make appearances on Winfrey's "Super Soul Sunday" segments on the Oprah Winfrey Network and has been referred to as Winfrey's spiritual friend and counselor.

In 1989, Williamson founded Project Angel Food. The volunteer program was originally designed to deliver food to home-bound people suffering from AIDS, but was later expanded to any person battling a critical illness. In 2004, Williamson co-founded the Peace Alliance, a non-profit organization with the mission to "empower civic action toward a Culture of Peace," according to its website.

WIlliamson said an epiphany pushed her to declare her bid for president. It was a moment where "the idea just popped in" and she felt "a deep calling" to do it.

Where she stands on some of the issues:

Williamson is a supporter of Medicare for all and is pushing for sweeping reform in sectors including the environment and food which she sees as "contributing to people being sick." During the first Democratic debate, she argued that a health care system which does not invest in preventative care would be a system of "superficial fixes."

Williamson has also called for reparations for American-American descendants of U.S. slaves saying it is an important step in acknowledging "a wrong that has been done" and paying for "a debt that is owed."

On the topic of vaccinations, Williamson said she supports the concept of vaccines but said they should not be mandatory as a measure of "individual freedom."


During the second fundraising quarter, Williamson raised $1.5 million. She, like other lower-tier candidates, had burned through her cash by spending more than she raised in the second quarter. Williamson had just over $500,000 on hand at the end of the second quarter.

PHOTO: Marianne Williamson speaks at her election rally, June 2, 2014, in Santa Monica, California.
Marianne Williamson speaks at her election rally, June 2, 2014, in Santa Monica, California.
Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

What you might not know about her:

Williamson garnered national attention in 1992 when she appeared on the "The Oprah Winfrey Show," following the launch of her New York Times bestselling book "A Return to Love."

During Williamson's unsuccessful 2014 congressional run, she had the endorsement of celebrity friends like Deepak Chopra, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria and Alanis Morrisette who even wrote her campaign theme song.

Williamson briefly lived in a geodesic dome on a commune in New Mexico where she grew vegetables.

In the 1990s, she gave a speech at a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago President Donald Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

She said she spent the 1970s enjoying "bad boys and good dope."

ABC News' Adam Kelsey and Lauren Lantry contributed to this report.