Who is Marianne Williamson? The Democratic debate star and self-help author vying for presidential nomination

A self-help author turned politician is in the spotlight again after accusing Donald Trump of conjuring a "dark psychic force" in the US.

Marianne Williamson is somewhat of an outside candidate vying for the presidential nomination, but she has hit the headlines for her performances in Democratic debates which have been hailed as quite unlike the other politicians.

On Tuesday night the 67-year-old blasted Mr Trump and rallied Democrats against the president as she called out racial and economic injustice in America.

"If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days," she said.

In the first debate Ms Williamson said her first phone call as president would be to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to say: "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."

Here is everything you need to know about Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

Who is Marianne Williamson?

Born in Houton Texas in 1952, Ms Williamson is an author, lecturer and activist with 13 books to her name, including the New Age titles A Return to Love and A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever.

In 1989 she founded Project Angel Food, which provides meals for people who are too ill to shop and cook for themselves, and is a co-counder of the Peace Alliance.

In 1991 Vanity Fair profiled her and wrote, “Marianne Williamson is not only the guru of the moment in Hollywood and a growing sensation in New York, but also a leading spokeswoman for a quasi-religious phenomenon that is making waves around the country.” They called her a “new prophet for the New Age,” with fans including Bette Middler, David Geffen and Cher.

And she can count on a decidedly A-list circle of friends, including Oprah Winfrey as her ex-spiritual advisor. She also officiated Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth and final wedding and when she ran for office in Los Angeles, her supporters included Kim Kardashian, Katty Perry, and Alanis Morissette, who wrote her campaign anthem.

Why is her campaign gaining attention?

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Because she doesn't sound or carry herself like a usual politician. Ms Williamson known for her speaking in somewhat wandering streams of consciousness with an arresting style and a lilt to her voice, as well as an accent that sounds vaguely aristocratic.

On Tuesday's opening night of back-to-back Detroit debates, Williamson showed that as long as she's in the race, she'll keep things interesting. And that while those long, winding declarations don't always make sense, they can occasionally produce powerful political moments.

Some of the loudest applause came when Williamson became the first of the 10 candidates on stage to evoke racism at length, calling it "part of the dark underbelly of American society."

She also commented on police brutality and slavery reparations, saying: "The Democratic Party should be on the side of reparations. I do not believe that the average American is a racist, but the average American is woefully undereducated about the history of race in the United States," - but she is still the longest of longshots to capture her party's nomination.

To prepare for her first debate, Ms Williamson suggested a “healthy alternative” to drinking as a form of “self-care,” according to The Hill. Suggestions included yoga poses (“instead of downing a shot, do a downward dog”), planking and “just meditate.” Her PR team also made sure that Williamson was correctly identified, writing that she is not a “spiritual guru (or any type of guru)”.

Ms Williamson briefly seizing the spotlight came after weeks of dismissing charges that she's a "new age nutcase." Earlier, Williamson's opening statement on Tuesday didn't seem to help that case much. In it, she decried a "false god" of multinational corporation profits that she said "takes precedence over the safety and the health and the well-being of we the American people."

In her closing statement Williamson again dismissed the night's political insider rhetoric and intellectual discussions, proclaiming that it was instead time for "radical truth telling." But then she returned to the kind of long declaration that has become her trademark.

"I want a politics that goes much deeper," Williamson said, continuing that the only way to combat Trump is with "new voices of energy" that only come when the nation makes "amends for our own mistakes, love each other, love our democracy, love future generations. Something emotional and psychological that will not be, be, be emerging from anything on this stage. It will emerge from something I'm the one who's qualified to bring forth."

She has also previously spoken out against government-mandated vaccinations. “I have met very sincere, very smart people on both sides of the vaccine issue," she said. "I understand infectious diseases are no small deal, but I have to say I know as a mother, if you're telling me that I have to put a needle into the arm of my baby and I don't feel good about what's in that needle, I'm not sure about that."