Democratic Underground (via TPM)
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the economy and foreign policy during a speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday night.
According to speech excerpts obtained by NBC, Romney, who has indicated if he decides to run for president again one of the pillars of his campaign would be inequality, will ask “How can Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn’t know where jobs come from in the first place?”
“Short term, our economy is looking up,” Romney plans to say. “But it is a lot better for the few, and pretty darn discouraging for the many. Incomes haven’t gone up in decades.”
Romney’s last presidential campaign in 2008 suffered from repeated attacks related to Romney’s wealth and background as a CEO. One of the lowest points in his campaign came after he said that the 47 percent of the country who depend on government would not vote for him. The moment was caught on video, and circulated widely.
Romney targets Hillary Clinton as he considers presidential bid
Those attacks build on comments his team made earlier Wednesday. As Romney heads to the nation’s poorest state, his political team is fighting back against perceptions that his wealth could be a political liability if he runs for president again, arguing that Clinton is no model for modest living, either.
“It’s going to be hard for Hillary Clinton to make Mitt Romney’s wealth a fruitful line of attack, with her multi-million dollar mansions in Georgetown and Chappaqua and her jet-setting lifestyle of the rich and famous,” a Romney aide said Wednesday.
I’m not sure if Bill Clinton is right. I suspect he wants Jeb Bush to be the Republican nominee knowing the nation wants no part of another Bush in office. Therefore, making it easier for Hillary’s chances of winning the Presidency in 2016.
That’s according to an extensive piece in Politico published Monday about the former secretary’s possible presidential campaign. Former President Clinton, according to the Politico piece, got a “heads-up” from people in former President George H. W. Bush’s world just a few days after the former Gov. Bush announced that he would “actively explore” running for president. In the words of Politico, former President Clinton saw Bush as a “real threat” while Christie as more of a “sideshow.”
Early polling of the Republican primary field has shown Bush leading a host of other candidates.
Despite the politcal rivalry, the Bush family and the Clinton family are actually somewhat close. Former President Clinton has repeatedly visited Former President H.W. Bush in Maine every summer and former Gov. Bush once presented former Secretary Clinton with an award. Former President George W. Bush has also referred to former President Clinton as his “brother from another mother.”
Well the good news is that Fox knows Elizabeth Warren is the most viable threat to implementing true corporate reform. Hence the attacks. If Elizabeth Warren were to run, I suspect that like Obama in 2008, she may start off slow but once people get to know her agenda and how she is for a revival of the middle class in America, they just might understand her message as opposed to Hillary’s pro corporate stance.
Fox News hosts held a hate-fest on Tuesday’s edition of Outnumbered, mercilessly lashing out at Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a segment discussing a possible Warren run for president in 2016.
In the segment, Fox Business host Melissa Francis predicting that Wall Street would do their vest to crush Warren as they believed she was “actually the devil.”
Co-host Kennedy Montgomery elaborated, stating that:
I can tell you from talking to people in the financial industry, in banking, on Wall Street, they think she is actually the devil. I mean, without question, Elizabeth Warren is the devil. So, they’re going to put any money they have behind Hillary Clinton, which should be a help.
After debating back and forth for a few moments about Warren’s populist message, guest host Bernard McGuirk attacked Warren as a “radical leftist” who “probably has posters” of a Mumai Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop-killer, “plastered all over her bedroom.”
Speaking of Warren, McGuirk stated:
When they shine a light on this lady, you don’t rise to the top at Harvard by being some moderate wallflower. She’s a radical leftist and you’re going to find out stuff about her that’s not palatable for her to run. So, I hope she runs.
She probably has posters of Mumai Abu-Jamal plastered all over her bedroom. I mean, she’s academia, Harvard, radical left.
Supreme Court justice and pop culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg left the hospital yesterday after having a heart stent implanted and expects to be back at work Monday. Despite various health issues over the years, Ginsburg insists that she is still of sound body at age 81 (her mind isn’t in question) and has no plans to retire before the end of President Obama’s term to ensure a Democratic replacement. If she keeps to that pledge, and presuming there are no other retirements in the next two years, the makeup of the Supreme Court could be a bigger campaign issue in 2016 than ever before. It certainly ought to be.
As much as we’ve debated Supreme Court cases in recent years, we haven’t given much attention to the idea of a shift in the court’s ideology because for so long the court has been essentially the same: divided 5-4, with conservatives having the advantage yet liberals winning the occasional significant victory when a swing justice moves to their side. And though a couple of recent confirmations have sparked controversy (Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor were both the target of failed attempts to derail their nominations), all of the retirements in the last three presidencies were of justices from the same general ideology as the sitting president. The last time a new justice was radically different from the outgoing one was when Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall — 23 years ago.
Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins in 2016, he or she may well have the chance to shift the court’s ideological balance. Ginsburg is the oldest justice at 81; Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are both 78, and Stephen Breyer is 76. If the right person is elected and the right justice retires, it could be an earthquake.
Consider this scenario: Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2017, and sometime later one of the conservative justices retires. Now there would be a liberal majority on the court, a complete transformation in its balance. A court that now consistently favors those with power, whether corporations or the government, would become much more likely to rule in favor of workers, criminal defendants and those with civil rights claims. Or alternately: The Republican nominee wins, and one of the liberal justices retires. With conservatives in control not by 5-4 but 6-3, there would be a cascade of even more conservative decisions. The overturning of Roe v. Wade would be just the beginning.
Look at what the Supreme Court has done recently. It gutted the Voting Rights Act, said that corporations could have religious beliefs, simultaneously upheld and hobbled the Affordable Care Act, struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act and moved toward legalizing same-sex marriage, all but outlawed affirmative action, gave corporations and wealthy individuals the ability to dominate elections and created an individual right to own guns — and that’s just in the last few years.
Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, there is probably no single issue you ought to be more concerned about in the 2016 campaign than what the court will look like after the next president gets the opportunity to make an appointment or two. The implications are enormous. It’s not too early to start considering them.
Ferguson braces for a grand jury’s verdict, Obama says Hillary would make a “great president,” and more
1. Grand jury resumes Ferguson deliberations as police brace for reaction
Protests continued near Ferguson, Missouri, as a grand jury was set to resume deliberations on whether to file charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in August. Police, state troopers, and the National Guard are bracing for reactions to the grand jury verdict, which is believed to be imminent. President Obama on Sunday called for calm, saying that race relations are improving in the U.S. “First and foremost,” he said, “keep protests peaceful.” [CBS News, Fox News]
2. Obama says Hillary would be “a great president”
President Obama said Sunday that Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of State, would make “a great president” if she decided to make another bid for the White House in 2016. Obama said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos that he would be willing to help the next Democratic nominee but suggested he would not do much campaigning, stepping back as George W. Bush did in John McCain’s 2008 campaign. Obama likened himself to a dinged up “used car,” saying Americans are going to want “that new car smell.” [The Christian Science Monitor, Fox News]
3. Israeli Cabinet approves proposal defining Israel as the Jewish homeland
Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday backed controversial legislation declaring the country to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the law, which now goes to lawmakers, gives equal emphasis to Israel’s religious and democratic nature, and is necessary to counter challenges to Israel’s status as the homeland of the Jewish people. Opponents, including members of two parties in the centrist coalition, said the law would undermine the government’s relations with Israel’s Arab minority and international allies. [The Jerusalem Post]
4. Tunisian presidential candidates head for runoff
Tunisia’s interim president, Moncef Marzouki, and former prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi led the field in the country’s first free and democratic presidential election on Sunday, but neither appeared to have won the outright majority needed to avoid a runoff. Essebsi, 87, had led in polls for months, and his secular party Nidaa Tounes won the biggest bloc in October’s parliamentary elections. Marzouki’s aides said he led the presidential balloting. Official results are expected in a day or two. [The Washington Post]
5. Deadliest insurgent bombing of the year kills 50 in Afghanistan
At least 50 people were killed Sunday when a suicide bomber attacked a crowd at a volleyball gamein eastern Afghanistan, local authorities said Monday. Another 63 people were wounded, many of them children. The death toll was the highest from an insurgent attack in Afghanistan this year. Most of the victims were civilians, although eight members of the local paramilitary police force were among the dead. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]
6. China builds an airstrip in contested islands
China appears to be stoking regional tensions by building an island in a contested part of the South China Sea that could hold an airstrip, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by IHS Jane’s, a leading defense publication. Dredges also appear to be creating a seaport big enough to accommodate tankers and warships among the Spratly Islands between Vietnam and the Philippines that are claimed by China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. [Fox News]
7. Cleveland boy with BB gun dies after being shot by police
A 12-year-old boy who had been holding a realistic-looking air gun died Sunday hours after being shot by a Cleveland police officer. The officer was responding to a call in which a witness said someone — “probably a juvenile” — was scaring people outside a recreation center by pointing a gun at them, although the caller said the weapon was “probably fake.” The responding officers ordered the boy to put his hands up and fired when, they said, he reached for the BB gun instead. [Cleveland.com]
8. Buffalo residents urged to prepare to evacuate as snow melts
Residents of flood-prone parts of the Buffalo area have been told to prepare for flooding as up to seven feet of snow that fell last week melts as the weather warms. Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged people to “err on the side of caution” and prepare to evacuate, moving valuables out of the basement and packing a bag in case they have to leave. Temperatures in the area are expected to rise to nearly 60 degrees on Monday, and rainfall on Sunday added to the potential for rising water. [NBC News]
9. Tour bus overturns in California, killing one
One person was killed and dozens injured on Sunday when a tour bus crashed and overturned in California, about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. Earlier in the same trip, the bus, which was headed from Los Angeles to Washington state, had struck a Denny’s restaurant, although there were no injuries in that accident. Investigators said evidence at both crash sites suggested that driver fatigue might have been a factor. [CTV News]
10. Azalea wins an American Music Award for her debut rap album
Newcomer Iggy Azalea won her first American Music Award for favorite rap/hip-hop album on Sunday, beating out seasoned stars Eminem and Drake to win for her debut album, The New Classic. “This award is the first award I’ve ever won in my entire life,” the 24-year-old Australian rapper said, “and it means so much to me that it is for best hip-hop because that’s what inspired me to move to America and pursue my dreams.” One Direction and Katy Perry were the biggest winners with three each. [The Associated Press]
Hillary Clinton has been crowned by many as the presumptive Democratic nominee for 2016, but there are other Democratic hopefuls out there. On Thursday one of them became the first potential candidate to form an exploratory committee, the first step in the long run for the presidency.
That man is former Virginia Senator Jim Webb. You may remember him as the guy who served one term in Senate between 2007 and 2013, and chose not to seek re-election. Webb served in the Reagan administration as Secretary of the Navy but ran as a Democrat for senate in 2006. In his announcement video, Webb highlighted his bipartisan roots, his military history, and made a generally centrist argument as to why he is considering a run for the presidency. Here are a few more things you should know about Jim Webb, the guy who has officially kicked off the 2016 Presidential elections.
1. Webb is not a dove.
Webb opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. His stance on the issue has led to many people calling him a dove-ish democrat, but that characterization is not all that clear. Webb did not oppose the war in Iraq on humanitarian grounds, but rather because he believed it was a strategic error, arguing that the conflict would sap vital resources from military engagements in other parts of the world and strengthen Iran. “I am not against fighting when fighting is necessary,” he told Inside the Navy at the time. “What I am for is making sure you are fighting the right war.” A Vietnam veteran, Webb famously said in 2007 he still believed that the Vietnam War was a good idea, and partially blamed the “anti-war left” for the way things turned out. In his announcement video, he speaks vaguely of “ill-considered foreign ventures that have drained trillions from our economy and in some cases brought instability instead of deterrence,” but doesn’t name names. Webb was opposed to military intervention in Libya.
2. Webb only recently evolved to support marriage-equality.
Webb was against same-sex marriage during his time in the Senate, although he wasopposed to a Virginia constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Last month he told The Richmond Times that he was “comfortable with the evolution” the issue has seen over the past few years. “I think it has been a good thing for this country,” he said. Webb also voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell after having campaigned against it.
3. Webb didn’t want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses.
Webb has been less than progressive on the issue of climate change. In 2011, he voted for a bill that would’ve halted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses. He is a proponent of the Keystone pipeline and even called on Obama to open Virginia’s coast to oil and natural gas exploration.
4.Webb is big on prison reform.
If Webb for President is a long shot, at least his candidacy can serve to bring the important yet rarely discussed issue of prison reform into the spotlight. Webb is outspoken on the issue and introduced legislation in the senate that would’ve created a commission to recommend widespread reforms to the criminal justice system. The bill hoped to remedy racial disparities within the system, address the fact that there are four times as many mentally ill people in prisons than in mental hospitals, and probe into the causes of the U.S.’s extremely high incarceration rate. The bill had unanimous Democratic support but was filibustered by Republicans and did not pass.
And there you have it. The 2016 elections have officially begun.
I’ll just say, I hope she runs in 2016…
If they’re smart, liberals could use Warren’s new power to make the changes to the party that are so badly needed
Despite being so notoriously difficult to get right, predictions are part of the pundit’s stock-in-trade. So once you’ve got some grains of salt ready to toss into the mix, please indulge me for a moment as I make one of my own.
Here it goes: Twenty years from now, assuming climate change has not yet ended the world as we know it, most American liberals won’t think of this fall as the time when Republicans finally retook control of the U.S. Senate. And they won’t think of it as the brief pause that separated the era of Barack Obama from that of Hillary Clinton. Instead, when the liberals of our near future look back on the current moment, they’ll remember it as the hour when the Democratic Party began to move decisively to the left, thanks in no small part to the continued ascendance of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Pessimist that I am, I’ll readily grant that this is very optimistic. In fits and starts, the party’s been moving leftward for a number of years now, and I’ve little doubt that the midterm blowout will be cited by some as proof that Democrats must become even more centrist. Yet unlike the talk surrounding a historically ignored election, which will dissipate quickly (especially if I’m right about the return of government-by-crisis), the opportunity raised by the Democratic Party’s recent decision to make Warren part of its Senate leadership has the potential to be far more enduring. But only if liberal activists know what to do with it.
At this point, it’s not entirely clear what the folks nominally in charge of this infamously disorganized party are trying to do by elevating Warren. Because the former Harvard Law professor has been prominent in liberal circles since the launch of her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it can be easy to forget that she’s only been in Congress for a couple of years. And coming as it does after a truly disastrous midterm showing, this seeming vote of confidence from Democratic bigwigs has the risk of being a “glass cliff” situation. My former colleague Brian Beutler, for example, has guessed that Senate Dem leadership may have opted to bring Warren into the fold because they’ll need a popular spokeswoman to deliver the next two years’ worth of bad news to the “professional left.”
Still, even if Warren’s promotion isn’t motivated entirely or primarily by idealism and generosity, it could nevertheless be a major turning point for activists looking to push the Democratic Party in a more left-wing direction. After many years of kvetching about their paltry influence — and following decade after decade of enviously watching the conservative movement refashion the GOP in its own image — lefty ideologues and organizers now have the chance to turn Warren into a kind of trojan horse for a resurgent politics of economic populism (or, as it used to be called, liberalism). And if they adapt and adhere to the script used many years ago by visionary right-wingers, who famously responded to an electoral drubbing in 1964 by staying the course and propelling a true believer to the White House less than 20 years later, it just might work.
It’s not a perfect analogy, I admit. There are fundamental, irresolvable differences between liberals and conservatives, and they extend well beyond ideology and into the realms of psychology and sociology. (Liberals are less hierarchically minded, more demographically diverse.) Further, in spite of all the mythology about conservative movement turning the GOP into the “party of ideas,” the fact is that the men (and women, but mostly men) who transformed the party of Lincoln into the chief vehicle of the Reagan Revolution spent much more time talking about and organizing around what they were against — taxes, the welfare state, the civil rights movement, feminism, LGBT equality, the separation of church and state, etc. — than what they were for. And while there are certainly some recent Supreme Court decisions they’d like to see reversed, a politics centered around a return to the glorious past is, for liberals, not really an option.
But notwithstanding all of that, I still think the conservative example offers activist liberals unhappy with the Obama record –which is most of them — some valuable lessons.
For one, if left-wing troublemakers want to make Sen. Warren a Goldwater of their own, they’ll have to ignore the 2016 presidential race as much as possible. That doesn’t simply mean giving up on the lost cause of forcing Wall Street favorite Hillary Clinton to reinvent herself as a true progressive. And it certainly doesn’t mean wasting resources on a quixotic primary challenge, which in the present circumstances will do little more than help Clinton get back in the swing of triangulation. Instead, it means building institutional support from the bottom up by creating funding networks and community spaces outside of the Democratic Party’s reach, so lefties can feel personally invested in their cause without having D.C. grandees step in and tell them to be “serious.” That’s what right-wing activists did through churches, think tanks and mailing lists; and the often successful Internet-based organizing from people at Daily Kos and the Blue America PAC has already offered a hint of how those on the left can do it again.
For another, the conservative precedent suggests that even if policy is overrated when it comes to deciding the outcome of elections, it’s extremely important to be in control of the policymaking apparatus for the time that comes next. Our political culture may pay an inordinate amount of lip service to the idea that policy is a translated version of the people’s will, but the reality is that most partisans and politicians choose their policy views by following where their party leads them, not the other way around. Conservative dominance over the grants, scholarships and think tanks that comprised the GOP’s policymaking infrastructure was integral to the dramatic lurch to the right the party platform experienced between 1960 and 1976 (before Reagan’s coronation, you’ll note). And as the Tea Party’s recent takeover of influential right-wing policy shops like Cato and Heritage shows, the value of this approach has not over time been diminished. As Grover Norquist, one of the leading right-wing activists of his generation, noted in 2012, controlling the GOP policymaking machine made it so all conservatives needed in a Republican president was the ability to use a pen.
Last but not least, the success of right-wing activists from the past and present indicates that there can be long-term benefits in a short-term stint as the minority. To be clear, it’d be taking things too far to say that it’s a good thing Democrats now only control the White House. As the last four years have taught us, the powers of the imperial presidency don’t seem to extend very far into the realm of the domestic (at least not yet). So having a majority in Congress is vital, still. At the same time, there’s value, to a degree, in having a party with ideological coherence — increasingly so, I’d argue, in an era of institutional failure and partisan polarization. Most of the Democrats dissolved in the red tides of ’10 and ’14 were “blue dog” conservatives, and while their absence has stripped Democrats of control over Congress, it’s offered lefties within their ranks the chance to redecorate, as it were, now that the majority times have ended.
Perhaps more than anything else, though, what lefty activists should learn from their right-wing counterparts is this: In a dysfunctional two-party system such as ours, in which voters are perpetually unhappy and ready for any excuse to throw the bums out and start all over, it’s only a matter of time until the losers of yesterday are once again ascendant. And as the GOP has shown in the years since its back-to-back wipeouts in ’06 and ’08, responding to electoral defeat by moderating is no longer necessary, while moving further away from the center is no longer a death sentence. Now that they have a political superstar and ideological true believer as their behind-the-scenes agent, lefty activists with an eye on the long term have a chance to, in the words of Warren, “frame the issues for the next few elections” and ultimately make the Democratic Party truly progressive.
In the November issue of Harper’s magazine, Doug Henwood argues that Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would do little to assuage liberals’ disappointment in President Barack Obama. This is how Henwood sums up the case for Hillary’s candidacy in 2016: “She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn.” But, he says, “it’s hard to find any political substance in her favor.”
Tracing Clinton’s life from her upbringing to her time at the State Department, Henwood portrays her as a pragmatic politician motivated more by ambition than by principle. Here are five key takeaways from Henwood’s piece:
1. Hillary Clinton didn’t do much during her time in the U.S. Senate.
Relying on records collected by former Clinton adviser Dick Morris, Henwood argues that the legislation Clinton passed during her first five years in the Senate had little substance. The vast majority of bills, according to Henwood, were purely symbolic or would have passed without Clinton’s support. Clinton did work to extend unemployment benefits for 9/11 responders, but Henwood cites Steven Brill’s book,The Rebuilding and Defending of America in the September 12 Era, to make the case that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was actually responsible for pushing the legislation through.
Even though she didn’t have much of a legislative impact in the Senate, Clinton did spend a lot of time befriending Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who could potentially support her in a presidential campaign, Henwood says.
Clinton’s most substantial legislative accomplishment, Henwood says, is her support for the Iraq War. The rest of her accomplishments in the Senate “were the legislative equivalent of being against breast cancer.”
2. Hillary Clinton is a hawk.
In addition to her support for the Iraq War, Henwood notes, Clinton also linked Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Such an accusation “was closer to the Bush line than even many pro-war Democrats were willing to go,” he writes.
The article goes on to say that during her time at the State Department, Clinton had a “macho eagerness” to call in the U.S. cavalry in foreign affairs. Quoting Time writer Michael Crowley, Henwood writes that, “On at least three crucial issues — Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid — Clinton took a more aggressive line than [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican.”
3. Hillary Clinton is ambitious.
Shortly after Bill Clinton graduated Yale Law School, Hillary was already telling colleagues that he was going to be president. Henwood also says Clinton’s private slogan for her and her husband was “eight years of Bill, eight years of Hill.”
4. Hillary Clinton is not idealistic.
At Wellesley College, Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Saul Alinsky’s community organizing tactics, but later found them to be “too idealistic and simplistic,” according to Bill Clinton’s biographer David Maraniss. In her thesis, Clinton doubted the effectiveness of welfare programs, writing that they “neither redeveloped poverty areas nor even catalyzed the poor into helping themselves.” When Clinton turned down a job offer from Alinsky after college, Alinsky reportedly told her that she wouldn’t change the world by going to law school. Clinton told him that she disagreed.
5. Hillary Clinton has no problem representing the rich.
When she worked for the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, she represented business owners who were upset over a ballot measure in Little Rock pushed by community organizers that would have raised electricity rates on businesses and lowered them on residents. Clinton played a crucial part in developing the legal argument that the higher electricity rates would be an “unconstitutional taking of property,” Henwood says, noting that similar arguments are now frequently used against regulation.
I am so on board with the idea of Elizabeth Warren as the Progressive/Democratic candidate for 2016…
The Massachusetts Senator says she’ll sit out 2016. But some Democratic diehards won’t take no for an answer, and are already building a campaign for her.
She is, she insists, not interested, telling The Boston Globe, “There is no wiggle room. I am not running for president. No means no.”
But for the organizers behind Ready for Warren, the SuperPAC trying to draft the Massachusetts senator into the 2016 presidential race, the door remains open for a potential run. So the group is staffing up in key early primary states and raising money in what they say will be an all-out blitz after the midterm elections designed to show Warren that there is a groundswell of support behind her.
And if many of the organizers and early supporters of the Warren for President seemed unfazed by the notion that Hillary Clinton is an all-but inevitable Democratic nominee, perhaps that is because many of them have seen this process play out before—when they backed a previously unknown freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who went on to topple the Clinton machine.
“I was in the Obama world,” said Erica Sagrans, who is helping lead the draft Warren effort and who served as northeast digital director of the Obama re-election campaign in 2012 after working for the pro-Obama outfit Organizing for America in 2009. “There are a lot of people in that world who are Warren fans, who really like Warren. But this is still a moment when people aren’t entirely comfortable coming forward.”
A number of veterans of Obama-world, however, are now out and proud Warren-ites. There is Kate Albright-Hanna, most recently a spokesperson for Zephyr Teachout’s upstart New York gubernatorial primary against Andrew Cuomo, and who joined the Obama effort way back in 2007 as the director of online video. Now she is preparing to take an as of yet undefined role with Ready for Warren.
“I am interested in building the progressive movement,” she said, citing a campaign continuum that stretched from Howard Dean in 2004, through Obama in 2008 and Teachout in 2014. “Getting involved in Elizabeth Warren is just continuing along that same branch. “
She said that the excitement around Warren now was similar to that around Obama in 2007.
“Before ‘change’ became such a cliché and everybody became disillusioned, there was a moment where people got excited and thought that we can actually change the way politics is conducted. We don’t have to be beholden to entrenched interests. All of that was epitomized in the early days of the Obama campaign, and there is the same sense now, that we don’t have to settle for what we have been given.”
As for Clinton, Albright-Hanna said, “We can’t go back to the 1990’s.”
Deborah Sagner raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign. Now, she calls herself one of the “first funders” of the Warren effort, having donated $20,000 to Ready for Warren already.
“I have a history of not supporting Hillary Clinton that goes back to 2007,” Sagner said. “I have never been particularly inspired by her. And I was very inspired by Barack Obama.”
Sagner said that she was concerned that Clinton was too hawkish and close to Wall Street, but added a point repeated by many Warren supporters: that robust debate, and a spirited primary, is good for the Democratic Party.
“I think it is good for the Democratic Party to have a progressive wing that challenges business as usual.”
And if Warren seems like an unlikely upstart now, so did Obama at this time eight years ago.
“[That campaign] made me think that it’s possible that this could happen. There are some parallels. And these things can just catch on and get going.”
There are also, of course, several non-parallels. Clinton, for one thing, is in a far stronger position than she was in 2000, back when voters still remembered her husband’s administration for its scandals rather than for its economic record, and back when Hillary was still paying for her Iraq War vote. Early polling shows her with a commanding—if not outright prohibitive—lead among Democratic voters. Additionally, Ready for Hillary, the SuperPAC supporting her effort, has already raised $8 million, and the bulk of the Democratic establishment has signed on, including some of the party’s most well-known political operatives.
Ready for Warren, meanwhile, has raised between $50,-100,000 according to organizers, and although it’s still preparing to open offices in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, it has so far signed up a few hundred volunteers. But there are as of yet no prominent political supporters, and perhaps its most well-known advisor is Billy Wimsatt, a longtime progressive political activist and the author of the cult classic Bomb The Suburbs.
“This is an inside/outside effort,” said Sagrans “There are people that have connections and roots in the DC political world, and there are people that are grassroots activists around the country.”
The group, however, recently bombarded the Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa, where Hillary made what many observers saw as her triumphant return to the national political stage. They are in discussions with several polling firms, and are planning a nationwide night of phone-banking later this month on behalf of Senate candidates that Warren has endorsed. They know that 2016 activity is on hold until November, but are aware that once the midterms are over, the presidential primary process begins in earnest. And if Warren is to feel that there is support out there for her, than the Ready for Warren team has a very short window to show it.
This means kicking up their fundraising in a major way. The group has already hired Bulldog Finance Group, a fundraising outfit founded by Scott Dworkin, who served on Obama’s inaugural committee in 2009, and which is staffed by another vet of the Obama 2008 campaign.
“We are helping Ready for Warren with two main goals,” said Jerald Lentini, vice-president of the firm and a former staffer with the AFL-CIO. “The first is encouraging Elizabeth Warren to run for president, because she is absolutely the best progressive out there. And the second is to build an organization that can help Senator Warren win when she decides to run.”
But the early Warren supporters are not just pulled from the ranks of people who helped derail Clinton’s ambitions in 2008. Audrey Blondin served on Hillary’s campaign in Connecticut in 2008, and as the elected state Democratic committeewoman, also worked on the campaigns of such establishment figures as Al Gore and John Kerry.
“That was then. This is now,” she said. Blondin is a bankruptcy lawyer, like Warren, and has known her for decades. She held a house party for Ready for Warren over the summer, and said she was unswayed by the senator’s denials.
“I understand that she says she is not interested in running. I have been in politics 35 years. I know what happens. You think she is not watching what we are doing? Of course she is. And that is going to make a difference. It’s all about timing and she is in the right place at the right time with the right message. In a few months it is going to take off. She won’t be willing to buck the tide that is carrying her forward.”
And if she does buck that tide, it does not necessarily mean that it is end of the Warren for President boomlet. According to Daniel Buk, a political consultant who raised $40,000 for Obama in 2012 but has given $20,000 to Ready for Warren this year, there is already talk of keeping the group together through the 2020 election cycle.
“There is real excitement here,” Buk said. “And there is a real potential, should Senator Warren reveal her plans.”