Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) insists she won’t challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination – but her liberal admirers aren’t taking no for an answer.
The former Harvard law professor and bane of Wall Street has repeatedly been urged by progressive Democratic groups to enter the race. This past fall, “Ready for Warren,” a Super PAC formed to draft Warren into the 2016 contest, began expanding its team of activists and organizers in key presidential states, MSNBC reported.
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Now MoveOn.org, the liberal grassroots political operation, is prepared to spend $1 million on another draft-Warren campaign, The New York Times said yesterday – underscoring the growing liberal appetite for a strong alternative to Clinton.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While Hillary Clinton has a strong lead in the polls against other possible Democratic challengers in 2016, some in her camp fear a tough primary could expose many weaknesses that worked against her in the 2008 primaries. An entry into the presidential race by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the left, potentially could turn the race upside down.
Ilya Sheyman, MoveOn.org’s executive director, said the group intends to open offices and hire staff in Iowa and New Hampshire, the premier presidential caucus and primary states that often heavily influence presidential campaigns, The Times reported. MoveOn has raised millions to promote legislation and help elect candidates ever since 1998, when it was formed to oppose the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Contributions to the group are not tax deductible.
“This moment was made for Elizabeth Warren,” the group said in a statement on its website. “We’re at a crossroads in American history, with inequality soaring to levels not seen since the 1920s and an economic playing field rigged to favor Wall Street and corporate interests. Inequality, and the corrupting political power of big money, threatens to undermine every issue we hold dear—from climate change to racial justice, from student debt to the fate of Social Security.”
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Warren is a leading voice for income equality, consumer rights and reining in the lending and investment practices of Wall Street. She has been a tough critic of the Federal Reserve and has strongly criticized President Obama’s choice of Antonio Weiss – the head of global banking at Lazard, which specializes in structured financial transactions – to become Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance.
In 2010, when Obama was considering her to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren’s reputation as a confrontational advocate derailed her nomination. In a profile published that year by The Fiscal Times, an industry group expert who declined to be identified said, “Warren adheres to behavioral economics theory where basically consumers are [considered] misinformed, irrational and can’t really make decisions in a clear-eyed way, so the only way to really protect the consumers is to make sure the government is in there rationing credit cards that are available to them.”
Bar none, Warren is the most sought-after candidate within the liberal bloc. In recognition of her status, Senate Democrats recently voted to give her a new leadership post to help formulate policy heading into the 2016 election season.
Though Hillary Clinton enjoys widespread support within her party, her appeal to liberals proved highly tenuous during her unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign against Obama in 2008.
Related: Hillary Clinton 2016 Alert: Watch Your Left Flank
Last year, Clinton sought to burnish her populist bona fides by warning that the country must “deal with the cancer of [income] inequality” and that it’s facing another “Gilded Age of robber barons.” But her subsequent comment in a televised interview that she and husband Bill Clinton left the White House “dead broke” — when they made millions from book contracts and speeches — did nothing to discourage criticism from the left about Bill Clinton’s economic policies in the 1990s and the couple’s ties to Wall Street. Moreover, many on the left have never forgiven Hillary for her Senate vote in 2002 authorizing the Iraq War as sought by GOP President George W. Bush.
A handful of other Democrats and independents – including former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – are exploring their prospects in the unlikely event Clinton doesn’t run. Vice President Joe Biden says he hasn’t ruled out a bid for the nomination.
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