Warren turns her ire to Trump, stumps on her electability
Fresh off a debate performance that may have bolstered her standing in the 2020 Democratic race, Senator Elizabeth Warren returned to Massachusetts focused on strengthening her electability against President Donald Trump.
Speaking at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention on Saturday, Warren said the Trump administration is “one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s modern history” and called on Democrats to unite toward a common goal: beat Trump in 2020.
Warren, a native of Oklahoma who’s represents her adopted home state of Massachusetts, where she taught at Harvard Law School, in the U.S. Senate, has largely avoided directly attacking Trump or her Democratic competitors on the campaign trail.
The focus on electability went to answer a persistent question in the minds of Democratic officials and voters about the progressive senator’s candidacy: can she win a general election against Trump in a race that will no doubt be nasty.
Warren, 70, highlighted her electability argument by laying out policy proposals that she said will fix the problems that got Trump elected in the first place.
“This dark moment requires more than being not Trump,’ because a country that elects someone like Donald Trump is a country that’s already in serious trouble,” Warren said. “We need to talk honestly about what’s broken in America, but even more than that – we must show American that we have plans to make big, structural changes to fix what’s broken.”
Warren’s support has been inching upward as she made one detailed policy proposal after another all year. She’s slowly gaining ground on front-runner Joe Biden and even boosted her polling against Trump. With over four months until the Iowa caucuses, Warren’s second hurdle is to convince voters that she’ll be a unifying candidate for the nation, said Debra Kozikowski, vice-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
“If there’s a problem, she has a plan, a path to get there and puts a price tag on it,” said Kozikowski, who hasn’t publicly endorsed a candidate. “That kind of attention to detail from a presidential candidate can bridge a lot of philosophical differences.”
Biden scored a point in Thursday’s Democratic debate in Houston, however, by challenging Warren on how she would pay for one of her central plans, government-run health care often known as Medicare for All. She avoided giving a direct answer, beyond saying that a family’s health-care costs would drop.
No Small Ideas
Biden, too, has made beating Trump central to his campaign message, pitching himself as the one who can appeal to working class and blue collar voters to win back key states that Trump won in 2016, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Warren, now in second place in most polls along with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has called for structural change in government.
“I’m here with a message for Democrats: the time for small ideas is over,” Warren said Saturday. “When I lead the Democratic Party, we will not be a party that nibbles around the edges. Our Democratic Party will be the party of big, structural change.”
Her promises seem to be resonating. Among registered voters Warren polled at 51% against Trump’s 44% in a hypothetical general election match-up, according to a Sept. 5 ABC News/Washington Post poll, after coming in tied with Trump at 48% in a similar poll in July.
Even as she aligns herself with her competitors when it comes to the urgency of winning back the White House, Warren often says that beating Trump is the floor, not the ceiling, for 2020. Despite concerns about whether her progressive proposals would help or hurt her in a general election match-up, Warren says her policies aren’t ideological.
“This is not about being Democrat or Republican or independent. These issues are bigger than that,” Warren told reporters in Springfield, Massachusetts. “So I see it as: I know what’s broken, I know how to fix it.”
Warren’s campaign approach has some voters and pundits wondering whether she would tack to more moderate proposals if wins the nomination, as candidates on both sides of the aisle typically do for the general election.
“I don’t think she has to do anything in terms of thinking about the ideological divide that might exist in the Democratic Party because it’s going to be so obvious to America who is on their side,” said Massachusetts Representative Lori Trahan, who’s endorsed Warren. “Right now, the boldness of her policies is exactly what’s getting her attention,” Trahan said, adding that “the details are going to be determined by a bunch of factors that we don’t even know yet.”