Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: AP)
31 December 14
owa is where many presidential campaigners rise from underdog to contender. In 2008, Barack Obama shocked everyone and handily defeated Hillary Clinton in what was the beginning of the end of Hillary’s “unbeatable” bid to return to the White House, this time around as the commander in chief.
In 1976, Jimmy “Who” became Jimmy Carter, on his way to becoming President Carter.
Iowa success can also be short-lived. After he had spent nine months at the bottom of the pack, Iowa caucus-goers gave birth to the presidential aspirations of Mike Huckabee, who then limped into New Hampshire and eventually lost to John McCain.
So far, only one campaign has been launched in Iowa for 2016. The candidate, Elizabeth Warren, continues to say she is not running, but it seems some people refuse to accept that. For months, the freshman senator from Massachusetts has repeated the same response when asked about a 2016 presidential bid.
“No, I’m not running for president” has been her often repeated reply.
But in October, everything changed.
October 22, 2014: Elizabeth Warren was asked about running for president by People magazine — and gave a more open-to-interpretation answer than she had all year.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open.”
Jump forward to December 17th in Des Moines, Iowa. A group called “Run Warren Run” kicked off the first campaign of the 2016 presidential race. No, it is not authorized by Senator Warren, but it is not a minor effort.
“Elizabeth Warren has been fighting tirelessly against the Wall Street lobbyists, against the special interests,” Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, told more than 75 people at a downtown coffee shop. “This is our moment to stand up and fight for her.”
The Iowa event was the group’s first organizing meeting, and there will be a similar event in New Hampshire in January. The campaign is seeking staffers in both states and trying to build volunteer and donor support. Another grass-roots group, “Ready for Warren,” has made a number of visits to Iowa since the summer.
MoveOn plans to spend $1 million on its Warren effort. Another liberal group, Democracy for America, said Wednesday it will join the campaign and pledged $250,000.
Ilya Sheyman said MoveOn plans to open offices and hire staff in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that kick off the presidential nominating process, and ultimately to air television ads in those states. The group will begin its “Run Warren Run” push with a website allowing supporters to sign a petition urging her to pursue a White House bid and featuring a video about her.
“We want to demonstrate to Senator Warren that there’s a groundswell of grass-roots energy nationally and in key states and to demonstrate there’s a path for her,” Mr. Sheyman said.
While Warren continues to deny she will run, and Hillary Clinton continues to lead in the polls, one has to wonder if the continued effort to draft Senator Warren is creating some doubt in the Clinton camp. Heightened interest in Warren is a clear sign that the Democratic Party base is not excited about Clinton candidacy. Hillary has an aging base of support that should for the good of the party step aside for a candidate who will energize the base, like Obama did in 2008.
Scott Galindez was formerly the co-founder of Truthout.