Oh, boy. Here we go. The Hill reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has opened the door more than a crack to a presidential run. Just like then-junior Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 cycle (who first discounted presidential talk and then embraced it), Warren doesn’t sound opposed to the idea:
“If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open.”
“Right now,” she said, “I’m focused on figuring out what else I can do from this spot” in the U.S. Senate.
Ready For Warren campaign manager Erica Sagrans said that the People interview “leaves more wiggle room” in Warren’s answer about a presidential campaign.
I suppose it boils down to what the meaning of “am” is. In prior interviews Warren has said, “I am not running for president.” Well, then she wasn’t.
For Hillary Clinton, this is déjà vu. In 2008, a relatively unknown liberal popped up in Iowa and knocked her off her perch. When her inevitability disintegrated, there was not enough to recommend her to voters.
Has anyone looked at Clinton’s favorability rating in Iowa? The Des Moines Register has: “Clinton remains a polarizing figure in Iowa. Her favorability rating is upside down: 49 percent of likely 2014 voters have a negative view of her, 2 percentage points more than those who view her favorably (47 percent). ‘Importantly, her unfavorables bend toward ‘very unfavorable’ — 30 percent,’ said the pollster for the Iowa Poll, J. Ann Selzer. ‘That’s not the highest we tested. Sarah Palin’s very unfavorable number is 39 percent and (President Barack) Obama’s is 38 percent.’ ” Ouch.
Should Warren jump in, others surely would follow — and then we have a real race.
Warren’s potential run should unsettle Hillaryland in many ways. First, as the foreign policy situation worsens and the electorate grows more hawkish, Clinton is desperate to distance herself from her former boss’s flawed approach. But Warren keeps Clinton from straying too far to the center on national security.
Second, Warren highlights the $200,000-a-pop speaker’s utter lack of populist appeal, reminding the liberal base that Clinton comes from the pro-business wing of the Democratic Party.
Third, Warren’s appearance would take away two crutches on which Clinton routinely depends: her gender and her skill in saying nothing. Suddenly, “it’s time for a woman” ceases to be an edge. Moreover, someone on the left out there taking positions and attacking hers(!) forces Clinton to cough up some actual positions.
Worst of all, the threat of a liberal populist may cause a relapse of Clinton’s “we were dead broke” efforts to assure people that she is just like them. There are few things more painful than watching Clinton trying to ingratiate herself with the common folk.
Frankly, the Democrats should welcome a Warren presidential run. An actual race will keep interest high, and goodness knows Clinton could use some campaign practice. But most of all, it is a reminder to us all that no one is “entitled” or guaranteed “her turn” in a democracy. You have to earn it, and if someone is better in the primary, the party will know it before it faces off in a general election.