Elizabeth Warren would like you to think that she’s maybe, perhaps, just wondering a little about possibly considering a run for the White House.
Which means she’s running, and running hard.
The Senator from Massachusetts said last Saturday that she’s mulling a run over. “So here’s what I promise: After Nov. 6, I will take a hard look at running for president,” Warren said.
In fact, even though she’s focused on running for re-election, Warren already has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign. By all accounts, she’s doing a good job of it.
Warren is trying to steal a march on Bernie Sanders, the candidate she most closely resembles in terms of policy. Both appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Warren made her reputation as a critic of Wall Street, much like Sanders. However, unlike Sanders, Warren does not call herself a socialist, preferring instead to position herself as a reformer of capitalism.
She’s also positioned herself as one of the chief opponents of President Trump. She has been vociferous in her attacks on Trump administration, which she has branded as the “stinkiest example” of corruption in modern times. In return, a clearly irritated Trump has branded her “Pocahontas” in an attack on Warren’s Native American heritage.
You can count on Warren reminding LGBTQ voters of her support. She made a point in her 2012 Senate race of advocating for marriage equality, at a time when then-President Obama was still “evolving” on the issue. When Trump announced his ban on transgender military personnel, Warren branded it as the product of “extreme ideology.”
In fact, Warren has assiduously courted the LGBTQ communty, with a deft touch. Although their voting records are nearly identical, Warren is clearly more at home with identity politics than Sanders.
“Right after I was elected, the organizer of Boston Pride asked if I would march again in next year’s parade,” Warren recounted in a “love letter” to the community. “I said no, absolutely not–I would not march. We stared at each other for a minute, and I shouted, “I don’t want to march at Pride–I want to dance!”
Warren has her drawbacks as a candidate. For one thing, she would be 71 on Inauguration Day in 2021, an example of the Democrats’ geriatric power structure. She would also face the same kind of sexist complaints that dodged Hillary Clinton as a female candidate. No less a figure than Warren Buffett said Warren “would do better if she were less angry and demonized less.”
Warren has a thick skin, so up to now she’s been able to take it as much as she dishes it out. She’ll need that stamina in a presidential campaign.
The Democratic field promises to be crowded, and as one of the frontrunners (already) Warren will be a prime target for other candidates looking to tear her down. But no matter what the outcome is, Warren is already shaping the discussion. Getting other candidates to react to your positions is a great place to begin a campaign–whether you’ve announced it or not.