Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is relishing her role as one of Hillary Clinton’s most effective attack dogs against Donald Trump.
Warren’s criticism of Trump in tweets and speeches has gotten under the Republican presidential nominee’s skin, provoking angry outbursts from the billionaire businessman.
She’s has shown a talent for irking Trump — mainly on Twitter — and moving him off message, which is something Trump’s GOP primary foes struggled to do.
Scott Ferson, a Boston-based Democratic strategist who voted for Clinton in the primary, said Warren’s attacks were effective because she knows where to aim and has the credibility to back it up.
“She knows how to hit Trump where he lives,” said Ferson. “I would have hated to be Elizabeth Warren’s younger brother.”
The liberal stalwart homed in on Trump’s business background and derogatory comments about women, labeling him a con artist who’s bilked his way into striking distance of the White House.
Soon after Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Warren tweeted that the duo was a perfect match: “Two small, insecure, weak men who use hate & fear to divide our country & our people.”
Trump changed the subject and countered that Warren was a “fraud” who lied about having Native American ancestry. Warren shot back with comments about the lawsuits he faces over Trump University while defending her own credentials.
“It might blow your mind that a woman worked hard & earned a good job on her own,” she tweeted, “but it’s not the 1800s. It happens.”
Warren also joined a chorus of Democrats calling for Trump to publicly release his tax returns, implying that the real estate mogul is hiding a bombshell.
“Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out he’s worth a whole lot less than he claims. We really can’t know for sure,” Warren said in a video for progressive nonprofit MoveOn.org.
And when Warren campaigned with Clinton for the first time, on June 27, she used the stage to knock Trump’s ethics.
“What kind of a man roots for people to lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their life savings? I’ll tell you what kind of a man: a small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one other than himself,” she said. “What kind of a man? A nasty man who will never become president of the United States.”
Democratic strategist Craig Varoga said Warren “expresses well thought-out plans in pithy sound bites.”
Trump has trouble with people attacking him, “especially a well-educated, forceful woman,” Varoga added.
Warren, a former law professor, has spent her career advocating for and proposing economic policies aimed at reining in Wall Street and big corporations and helping the middle class and the poor.
Her authenticity and credibility on economic issues could help energize people who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic primary and persuade undecided voters to vote for Clinton.
“She’s uniquely suited to talk about economic solutions to the problems that both Trump and Sanders have identified and talked about so far,” such as bad trade deals and the struggles of the middle class, Varoga said.
Warren targeted Trump even before endorsing Clinton, and she continued as the presumptive nominee deliberated about choosing a running mate.
But Warren is unlikely to stop attacking Trump and pushing her economic message just because she won’t be the vice presidential nominee, say allies on the left.
“She’s motivated by a policy agenda she believes in,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “She’s not motivated by a desire to audition for a title.”
Ferson agreed, noting Warren’s past tension with Clinton gives her no reason to stick her neck out.
“She is really, really afraid of what Donald Trump will do if he becomes president,” said Ferson. “Elizabeth Warren has no reason from a personal standpoint to help Hillary Clinton.”
Warren energizes progressives and Democrats as a whole because “she is fearlessly willing to speak truth to power,” said Neil Sroka, communications director at Democracy for America. His group and MoveOn had partnered on the “Run Warren Run” campaign from December 2014 to June 2015 to encourage the senator to run for president.
Warren’s comments resonate with progressives and people across the political spectrum because she has a plain, easy-to-understand way of speaking and “her integrity is self-evident,” said MoveOn Communications Director Nick Berning.
She can also appeal to undecided voters who may be attracted to Trump’s economic message because she provides more substance, experts said.
Warren’s progressive credentials give Clinton a much-needed bridge to the left wing of her party.
Though Warren criticized Clinton’s economic stances long before she joined the Senate in 2013 and held out on an endorsement in 2016 until the former first lady had clinched the nomination, she’s insisted Clinton is the best person to fight for middle- and working-class families.
“For 25 years … the right wing has been throwing everything they possibly can at her. What she’s done is she gets back up, and she gets back in the fight,” Warren told MSNBC upon endorsing Clinton on June 9.
“You also have to be willing to throw a punch, and there are a lot of things people say about Hillary Clinton, but nobody says she doesn’t know how to throw a punch,” she said.
Warren is the “best person to raise money, excite the base and maximize turnout for the base,” said Ferson. “There’s no one who provides that excitement in the way that Elizabeth Warren does.”
By Naomi Jagoda and Sylvan Lane