This is the third in our series of early analysis of the candidates vying for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. We will try and provide 1-4 of these a week covering all of the candidates until they all have a page, and update some items periodically.
Hometown: Oklahoma City, OK, although she now lives in Boston, MA
69 years old, Senator from Massachusetts, Former Professor and Chair of the TARP oversight and founder of the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau
It’s hard to say that the financial collapse of 2008 benefited people, but in the case of Warren, it provided her the opportunity to demonstrate to the world her bona fides. And she made the most of it.
As a Harvard professor, she taught mostly financial and bankruptcy law. Her first foray into public life was advising the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, opposing George W. Bush’s bill curtailing consumers’ abilities to declare bankruptcy. People on Capitol Hill noticed and when the economic collapse occurred at the end of Bush’s term, Democrats placed her front and center on oversight boards for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and advocated for the creation of a Consumer Finance Board helping defend consumers from financial and bank frauds. The CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank bill placing greater regulations on financial institutions. President Obama appointed her to create the new agency from the ground up.
But in 2010 a new hostile Congress made it known she would not pass confirmation to chair the agency, so Obama was forced to choose someone else. Some may think this was a setback, but was a blessing in disguise for Warren. Instead she ran for Senate in Massachusetts in 2012, beating Scott Brown for the seat previously belonging to Ted Kennedy. Since then, she has been the most vocal advocate against big banks and financial deregulation.
Path to the Nomination
There is a lot of overlap with those supporting Bernie Sanders. Both are hard left liberals, their messages both point shaming fingers at the banks and both talk in broad regulatory terms. When it comes to other social issues, they are both social justice liberals and both can give fiery stemwinders of a speech against Trump.
There are a few things that work in her favor over Bernie. First, being a woman in the age of #MeToo is not a bad thing, especially following the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton was the standard bearer. Second, she’s younger (but still 69) than Bernie, and can really rally an audience; her speeches regarding economic realities not filtering to the lower/middle class resonates in a way that doesn’t for any other candidate.
So if she can pick off some Bernie voters, rally those hurt by Trump’s policies in Iowa and New Hampshire, and appeal to labor democrats, she has a very good angle at the nomination.
Her announcement for President was handled poorly with an odd video regarding her (small) Native American ancestry that has taken Trump to calling her “Pocahantas.” Since then, she’s kept a lower profile nationally, but has been doing a stellar job retail politicking in Iowa. Her numbers have been in the high single digits but her crowds have been the most energetic.
She’s definitely building momentum and a loyal following. If she continues to impress at the local level, she can go places, all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Warren has a clean shot at the White House. With 20 people running, even if she doesn’t get the big job, she’s definitely got an angle on a cabinet position, or she can stay in the Senate for years and take up the mantle of Ted Kennedy. Probably more than any other candidate in the race, she has the most options available to her. We’ll see how she chooses to play those cards as the debates get underway.