COMMERCE, Calif. — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has a new partner in her battle against Donald Trump: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who gave a speech Tuesday mirroring Clinton’s own talking points accusing Trump of profiting from the housing crash of 2008.
Warren (D-Mass.) has stayed out of the ongoing Democratic primary race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — she is the only Democratic woman in the Senate who has not endorsed Clinton — but she recently has become more aggressive in taking on Trump on his favorite medium, Twitter.
Warren’s speech, at the Center for Popular Democracy’s annual gala in Washington, struck what are familiar themes for her.
“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown — because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” Warren said. “What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions?”
The timing of her remarks Tuesday, and their convergence with Clinton’s stump message in California the same day, was not entirely a coincidence. And it may serve a dual purpose for Clinton: helping her begin the general-election battle against Trump, but also beginning the difficult task of unifying the fractured Democratic Party.
Warren enjoys strong support with many of the Democratic constituencies passionate about Sanders. An aide said she takes seriously her potential role in helping to bring those constituencies together and focus the party’s energy on defeating Trump.
Among other points, she criticized Trump for proposing a plan that would dismantle Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
“Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street?” Warren asked. “Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song.”
“Can Donald Trump even name three things that Dodd-Frank does? Seriously, someone ask him,” she added.
While campaigning in California, Clinton used Trump’s own words to make a similar case: that he cheered on the market crash eight years ago.
“Trump economics is a recipe for lower wages, fewer jobs and more debt,” Clinton told a crowd here Tuesday afternoon.
“You know what happened in the Great Recession. Donald Trump said when he was talking about the possibility of a housing-market crash before the Great Recession, he said, ‘I sort of hope that happens,’ ” Clinton said. “He actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard-working families in California and across the country to lose their homes.”
In his own defense, Trump called Clinton a “low life” for using a clip of his comments about the housing crisis in an ad.
“I’m a businessman, that’s what I’m supposed to do,” Trump said at a rally in Albuquerque on Tuesday night.
He also targeted Warren, calling her “Pocahontas” and accusing her of saying that she was Native American because “her cheekbones were high.”
“She is probably the senator that’s doing just about the least in the United States Senate,” he said of Warren. “She’s a total failure.”
Clinton and more than a dozen surrogates and allies hammered the message across the country on Tuesday, showing a level of coordination on message and strategy that amounts to a dry run for the general election.
Elected leaders, including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), held calls with local and national reporters to push the message.
“This is Trump’s view of the world: When Americans suffer, Trump looks to cash in,” Ryan said on a conference call with reporters.
Pro-Clinton group Americans United for Change, the AFL-CIO and other progressive groups rallied outside of Trump’s soon-to-be hotel in Washington, D.C., toting anti-Trump signs that repeated — word for word — the message that Ryan delivered on the call.
Trump wasted no time to respond to the attacks.
“I am a businessman, and I have made a lot of money in down markets,” he said in a statement distributed to reporters. “In some cases, as much as I’ve made when markets are good. Frankly, this is the kind of thinking our country needs, understanding how to get a good result out of a very bad and sad situation.”
Clinton has for weeks been bogged down in a two-front war against Trump and Sanders. But since Trump essentially secured his party’s nomination in April, Democrats have grown increasingly anxious that they are running out of precious time to set the terms of the general election before Trump does.
“We can’t normalize Donald Trump — nothing about him is normal,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday.
Democrats have tried out different strategies to take on the presumptive Republican nominee, but on Tuesday, Clinton sent a clear signal to her allies that they should focus on a single message: that Trump pursues profit above all else.
The effort was also aimed specifically at voters in battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that in 2005, Trump ignored growing warnings that the housing market was on shaky ground just before launching his failed mortgage company.
Clinton and her surrogates also called attention to Trump’s statements in 2006 and 2007 — in the lead-up to the housing crash in 2008 — saying that if the housing bubble burst, he “would go in and buy like crazy” to make money.
“Now he says he wants to roll back the financial regulations that we have imposed on Wall Street to let them run wild again,” Clinton said.
She noted that Trump has “experience with bankruptcy” and questioned how he lost money in the casino business.
“He’s bankrupted companies,” Clinton said. “I don’t know if that’s one of the qualifications of running for president, but I kind of doubt it.”
Tumulty reported from Washington. Jose DelReal in Washington contributed to this report.