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Will Elizabeth Warren Lead Democratic Contenders in 2020?

The Associated Press

If President Donald Trump seeks re-election, it remains unclear which Democrat will face him. Politico reports that Elizabeth Warren is quietly positioning herself for a 2020 run, joining Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and as many as 30 other potential candidates for the Democratic nomination.

According to the website:

The liberal icon and Republican bete noire has amassed more money in her campaign war chest than nearly any senator in modern history, groomed political connections with Democrats who’ve been skeptical of her in the past, and worked to bolster her bipartisan and foreign policy bona fides.

It’s part of a conscious break from the heads-down posture that Warren purposefully maintained during the first five years of her Senate career, a wide range of Democrats close to the Massachusetts senator and her tight-knit political operation told POLITICO. And it’s representative of Warren’s tricky navigation between the wishes of advocates who want her cutting a clear path to 2020, and supporters who think her best bet is to run up the score in her reelection race this year.

In 2016, The Hill explained Warren’s rise to prominence:

Having never held elected office before 2012, Warren’s ascent to party leader has come at breakneck speed. She is rapidly building a network of allies, giving her increased leverage as she seeks to pull the Democratic Party to the left on everything from Social Security to policing Wall Street.

“Warren is the politician that all Democrats want,” wrote Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Cowen & Company. “That means other Democrats don’t just owe Warren. They also have to worry about the consequences of offending her. …”

“She more than anybody else is just about the most popular person among Democratic voters,” said one financial lobbyist who has tracked Warren closely. “She’s not bringing the party towards her. Elizabeth Warren is where the base of the party is.”

Warren has helped lead the resistance to Trump in Congress. She fought his immigration policies and championed the DREAM Act, which would grant conditional and potentially permanent residency to undocumented minors in the U.S. She also called the Republican tax bill “a heist.” Trump has responded personally to Warren, calling her “Pocahontas” at a November event honoring Native Americans (referring to Warren’s unverified claims of having Native American ancestry), and attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren first proposed as a law professor in 2007.

Democratic strategist Doug Rubin, who helped lead Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign, told Politico, “The stuff that Trump is focused on, a lot of it is big breaks to big corporations and the banks and others, and that’s in her sweet spot, that’s why she was elected, it’s what she cares about. So you may see more of her, just because this stuff is out there.”

Indeed, conservative groups have run attack ads against Warren, which suggests that she is already on the national radar for both parties. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, told Politico, “Big money is already running attack ads against her, and she is and should be taking them very seriously. She won the first time with a formidable grass-roots organization, and she should be doing the same thing again. There will be plenty of time after that to think about the national scene.”

In 2016, Warren and Sanders were initially considered too far left to become the Democratic presidential nominee, and former Hillary Clinton adviser Mark Penn in an op-ed piece blamed the Democratic loss on “sharply leftist ideas.” Warren responded several weeks later in a speech:

We’re not going back to the days of being lukewarm on choice. We’re not going back to the days when universal health care was something Democrats talked about on the campaign trail but were too chicken to fight for after they got elected. And we’re not going back to the days when a Democrat who wanted to run for a seat in Washington first had to grovel on Wall Street.

In 2016, progressive talk show host Bill Press told C-SPAN, “If Elizabeth Warren had run, I’m pretty confident in saying Bernie Sanders never would have run.”

Warren revealed in her book “This Fight is Our Fight,” published in 2017, that she, in consultation with her husband, decided against running for president in 2016 because it would have been far more intense than her Senate race. But her national profile has continued to grow, and her Senate re-election campaign has raised more than $12.8 million—much more than the average incumbent senator has raised this early in an election cycle, Politico notes.

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells
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