July 17--My bet is that Elizabeth Warren could be persuaded to run for president in 2016. And I'll double down and say she could beat Hillary Clinton.
Yesterday morning -- after she'd slammed Mitch McConnell for the Republican filibuster against student loan reform -- I joined the long line of reporters to ask, "Are you running?"
"I am not running for president," she said emphatically.
"I will say this -- hear me loud and clear. I am focused on 2014 (midterms), 2014 matters," she said.
So if you're not running, do you support Hillary?
"Hillary's not there yet. She hasn't declared," she said.
OK, that didn't sound to me like I-will-run-over-hot-coals-for-Hillary enthusiasm.
I also mentioned to our senior senator that she could be the only person standing between Mitt Romney and a GOP landslide in 2016.
She laughed but didn't bite.
Certainly the GOP thinks she will run (and so does the grass-roots group behind Ready4Warren.com). She's sure acting more and more like a presidential contender, a GOP spokeswoman has said, and they're building "a narrative" on her.
Warren's PAC for a Level Playing Field is raking in big money, and she's drawing big, swooning crowds in unlikely places.
"We had fun -- I was in Kentucky and West Virginia fighting for the same issues I'm fighting for in Massachusetts. Leveling the playing field. Standing up to Wall Street," she told me. "People seem very connected to that. ... People reach out and hug me and tell me their stories and take pictures. They understand this is what's happening in America."
Warren's behind-the-podium delivery has vastly improved since she left academe after age 60 and beat Scott Brown. She is part Harvard Law School brainiac and part Okie from Muskogee. And she's more Clinton than Hillary. Like Bill, Liz feels people's pain.
"People tell me things that are very painful," Warren said.
"Someone hugged me, a woman, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, '$95,000.' I leaned back and looked at her. 'Student loans are killing me.' It's that kind of thing. That's one that just happened in West Virginia."
Here's the most important reason Liz Warren's a hot political property. She stands for something. Everybody knows what it is. Rescuing the shafted middle class. Slamming Wall Street and big banks. She's seen the devil, and it's Goldman Sachs.
"It's Washington that's off," Warren said. "And people get this."
I'm betting they will in 2016.
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