Ever since Hillary Clinton's campaign said a woman would be on its list of potential vice presidential running mates, speculation has soared over whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) would be among them. The popular Massachusetts senator, whom some Democrats tried to draft to run in 2016, could be a way to spark enthusiasm in a campaign that sorely needs more of it. A way to help shift the perception of Clinton's cozy relationship with Wall Street. A way to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters who've threatened to stay home on Election Day.

Joe Biden apparently wanted her for the job if he ran, Politico reported Thursday. And in an interview Wednesday with Mic, Warren, who has not endorsed a candidate, didn't appear to rule it out when asked what she would do if asked.

"Right now, I just want to be clear, I love my job," she said, adding that "we've got to get all of our nominations settled on the Democratic side." And, she said, "I'm not thinking about another job." In the interview, she also said she hadn't recently spoken to Clinton, who leads the Democratic race in delegates, though has not yet wrapped up the nomination.

Yet whether or not Clinton, if she wins the nomination, selects Warren as her running mate -- a choice that has plenty of doubters, too -- the Massachusetts senator's recent Twitter tirades against Donald Trump serve as a reminder of something important: You don't need to be a running mate to lead attacks against the party's opponent. And in this election that sidelines role could be even more effective than usual.

Again on Wednesday, Warren launched into a "tweetstorm" against Donald Trump, bashing the GOP front-runner, saying "your policies are dangerous. Your words are reckless. Your record is embarrassing. And your free ride is over." Calling his insults "pathetic" and writing "it's time to answer for your dangerous ideas," it was the third time in just over a week that Warren used a series of tweets to offer sharp attacks against Trump.

Naturally, Trump responded with his own name-calling and critiques, tweeting Wednesday "if it were up to goofy Elizabeth Warren, we’d have no jobs in America — she doesn’t have a clue." He said, as he has about Clinton, that Warren was using the "woman card" and called her an "ineffective" senator.

The tweet duel has prompted a fresh round of analysis over whether Warren is showcasing the "attack dog" part of the running mate's job description. Warren "may or may not be in contention to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate," said a USA Today report, "but she is certainly auditioning for the attacker role." The New York Times, calling Warren "one of the few high-profile leaders in either party to repeatedly challenge Mr. Trump with clarity and directness," reported that Clinton "has said she wants a running mate who can act as an attack dog" and that "Warren is embracing a role right now that Mrs. Clinton cannot."

That's a reference to how candidates for president often turn to their No. 2s to play the role of scrappy fighter, allowing them to rise above the fray and appear more presidential in comparison. Yet in a campaign driven more by social media than ever before, there's no reason the party's most vigorous attack dog must be on the ticket. Running mates, yes, get showcased nationally in one vice presidential debate, in the news coverage surrounding their selection, and in a speech at the convention.

But Warren is already a well-known brand of her own, one who will continue to command attention from whatever post she holds. With Twitter and other social media as a megaphone, powerful surrogates -- or at least those who embrace fights against an opponent -- have a bigger platform than ever for getting their voices heard, even without the usual official titles or roles.

Moreover, it's hard to know just how a mudslinging contest would play out for Warren from the No. 2 role. As a senator from Massachusetts, Warren's words against Trump will be viewed as just that: A popular, influential Democrat who's speaking out about the campaign. But add the layer of being in a potential leadership role -- a heartbeat from the presidency, the next-in-line should something occur -- and the way people view those attacks could shift, not only because of double-bind expectations for how a female candidate should act, but perhaps for how anyone on a presidential ticket should.

Finally, giving someone else the high-profile vice presidential nod -- an official role where he or she could play the role of attacker, too -- doesn't prevent Warren from lobbing her own takedowns, too. It multiplies them. And when the opponent is Trump, known for name-calling and hurling insults at his opponents, having more people playing that role could be more effective.

To be clear: This is not intended, in any way, to judge whether Warren should or shouldn't be Clinton's running mate, if she becomes the nominee. That decision should be based on a number of things -- the chemistry and working relationship between the two potential leaders, their complementary sets of skills, their readiness for the job, as well as their strengths on the campaign trail. Rather, it's a reminder that especially in today's social media-driven world, and in a campaign that has broken all the rules and seems destined to be more negative than ever, leading doesn't have to come with a title. Making an impact can come from anywhere.

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