As I noted the other day, the folks who are urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president are paying very close attention to her use of verbal tenses. Warren has frequently cast her denials of an intention to run in the present tense — I am not running, she has said, without ruling out a run in the future — which the Draft Warren movement has taken as a reason to continue pressing her to do just that.
There is a motive behind this whole dance, and it is why the Draft Warren movement will continue pretty much no matter what Warren says. But more on that in a sec.
First, note that Warren, in a new interview with Fortune magazine, has now said she will not run:
QUESTION: So are you going to run for President?
ELIZABETH WARREN: No.
A spokesman for one of the groups leading the Draft Warren movement recently told me that if Warren closed the door on a future run, “it would end the draft effort.”
And yet, groups driving the Draft Warren effort, it turns out, are only going to continue, even in the face of Warren’s latest. Here’s a statement from Democracy for America and MoveOn:
“We understand that reporters are required to follow every twist and turn of the 2016 race, but let’s be clear: This isn’t a new position for Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren has been clear for years that she isn’t planning on running. If she were running, there wouldn’t be a need for a draft effort. We launched the Run Warren Run campaign to show Senator Elizabeth Warren the tremendous amount of grassroots enthusiasm and momentum that exists for her entering the 2016 presidential race and to encourage her to change her mind.”
Meanwhile, Alex Seitz-Wald reports that the Draft Warren effort is pressing ahead in New Hampshire and Iowa.
The endless intention lavished on every grammatical iteration of Warren’s denials may seem absurd. But the mere fact that each one of them makes news — as the latest one is now doing — basically ensures that this will only continue.
That’s because, while the primary goal of the Draft Warren movement is obviously to persuade her to run, the secondary goal is also important. The idea is that all of this can only help boost Warren’s visibility, which also boosts her influence within Congress, and over the Democratic Party, as a vehicle for the brand of feisty economic progressivism these groups support. And that, potentially, boosts their influence, or at least the influence of their agenda.
From the point of view of these groups, recent events only vindicate their strategy. Antonio Weiss — a top target of Warren due to his Wall Street connections — has withdrawn from consideration for a top post at the Treasury Department, amid headlines declaring a Warren victory. Progressives lost a round when the measure she opposed that undermines Wall Street reform was included in the big budget deal, but thanks to Warren, the issue probably earned a far higher profile than it might otherwise have. And Draft-Warren officials noted with satisfaction the news accounts that claimed front-runner Hillary Clinton is carefully tailoring her economic message with an eye on the Massachusetts Senator.
As David Dayen details, there is a reason Warren’s brand of populism is ascendant in the Democratic Party: She is articulating a coherent, interlocking set of ideas focused on the economic prospects of the middle class, and a broader critique that explains how and why the economy got to this point, with more passion and specificity than anyone else. There is no reason why these groups would stand down from feeding the dream of a Warren presidential run, as long as the mere possibility continues to generate media attention — no matter how far-fetched that possibility appears, and no matter what Warren herself says about it.