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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It Is Elizabeth Warren's Party

Elizabeth Warren has become increasingly critical of Obama and his economic team. (photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP)
Elizabeth Warren has become increasingly critical of Obama and his economic team. (photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
15 December 14

sually the sitting president is the leader of his or her political party until there is a new nominee. If the party is not in power then the highest ranking Congressional leader or the presumptive nominee is seen as the leader of the party.

So let’s look at the Democrats. President Obama must be the leader of the party. He even let the party swallow his election machine when Obama for America became Organizing for America. However, we saw during the mid-term elections that it was not the case: Democratic candidates would rather have had Ebola than be seen with the president.

So of course it must be the presumptive nominee to replace the president that leads the party, right? No, Hillary Clinton is not the Democrat with the most sway. She did raise some money and campaign for Congressional candidates, but she still took second billing to her husband on the campaign trail. While he still has star power with some members of the party, Bill Clinton is not the biggest star in the party.

Harry Reid, you say … really? He had to go out and create a new leadership position to accommodate the real leader of the Democratic Party.

She keeps saying she is not running for president, but until she says “I will not run for president,” I’m not buying it.

No politician has done more to raise her national profile than Senator Elizabeth Warren. No Democrat was more sought after to be seen with by other Democratic candidates. She raised a lot of money for other Democrats, something politicians do when building a national organization to run for president. She released a book introducing herself to the country.

I seem to remember a book called “The Audacity of Hope” coming out in 2006 while a first term senator from Illinois was campaigning for other candidates and even making trips to Iowa. He also said he wasn’t running for president. Obama’s Hope PAC raised money for over 100 candidates in 2006, while he “was not” running for president.

Elizabeth Warren has followed the Obama script to a tee. “A Fighting Chance,” her autobiography, was released this year. She campaigned for other Democrats across the country, including in Iowa and New Hampshire. Her PAC “For a Level Playing Field” donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to other Democrats.

To be fair, her contributions did appear to be targeted to keeping control of the Senate for Democrats. But the comparison to the 2014 Senator Warren and the 2006 Senator Obama is striking. Almost as if it’s a sequel.

In September of 2006, the polling for the Democratic nomination looked like this: Hillary Clinton 35%, Al Gore 16%, John Edwards 10%, John Kerry 9%, Joe Biden 5%, Tom Daschle 2%, Mark Warner 2%, Evan Bayh 1%, Wesley Clark 1%, Christopher Dodd 1%, Russ Feingold 1%, Bill Richardson 1%, Tom Vilsack 1%. President Obama wasn’t even polling at 1%.

After Obama made a few stops in Iowa, one to campaign for Bruce Braley (Senator Warren stumped for him too) in November, the polls changed drastically. Hillary Clinton 29%, Barack Obama 22%, Al Gore 13%, John Edwards 10%, John Kerry 4%.

Fast forward to 2014 and the “not running for president” freshman senator from Massachusetts is polling at 17%. Only 2 points lower than the eventual winner of the 2008 nomination.

Despite the polls showing Hillary with a comfortable lead, there is evidence of Clinton fatigue.

2000 Democratic Party activists met in Washington DC this past weekend for Roots Camp 2014, and the Warren buzz could not be ignored. MoveOn and Ready for Warren had tables and held panels on an eventual Warren candidacy for president. MoveOn has pledged 1 million dollars to a campaign to draft her for president. The effort will include the hiring of staff in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Howard Dean’s organization, Democracy for America, has called for Elizabeth Warren to run for the Oval Office.

300 former Obama campaign staffers have signed an open letter urging the Massachusetts senator to seek higher office.

In the last few months, Warren has been increasingly critical of the president and his economic team. In an October interview in Salon, the senator said: “They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes. Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over.”

Warren’s populist message has struck a chord with the activist wing of the Democratic Party. In mid-November she accepted a leadership position in the United States Senate that was created just for her.

She has taken on the party leadership, fighting against the budget deal that includes provisions that will weaken Dodd-Frank and make it easier for corporations to move money offshore and avoid taxes. The legislation passed, but not by much, and with a significant number of Democrats dissenting. Without GOP support, the legislation would not have passed.

Harry Reid did not control the majority of Democratic votes … Warren did.

It remains to be seen if Warren will run this time, but she has built the machine – all she has to do is turn it on and she will be the one to beat in 2016.

Scott Galindez was formerly the co-founder of Truthout.

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