Warren dances around 2016 states

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Progressives are urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to stump in Iowa and New Hampshire for 2014 candidates, despite her reluctance to touch down in early primary states that would catapult her into the 2016 spotlight.

The liberal hero has increasingly become one of Democrats' top surrogates this cycle, all the while adamantly denying she has any presidential ambitions for two years from now. 

Warren has taken her message to a dozen states the year, including Oregon, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and West Virginia. But she's left off both the Hawkeye and Granite states despite the fact that both are top GOP targets Democrats are defending. 

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Should Warren decide to hit the trail for Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) or incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), she'd certainly fuel speculation that she's looking to lay the groundwork and build support for a presidential campaign in the early caucus and primary states.

So far, she has no plans to visit Iowa or New Hampshire, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

While Warren’s hesitancy to travel there may hinge on reluctance to stoke the 2016 fire, for Senate candidates her absence in those early states isn’t because she’s not wanted. 

One Democratic strategist told The Hill that insiders have been urging her in recent weeks to stump in Iowa and New Hampshire, despite the presidential attention that would come with it.

The freshman senator has consistently maintained that she is not running for president, despite liberals' increasingly urging her to challenge presumed-nominee Hillary Clinton.

But as the GOP's chances to take the Senate have increased, and the open seat race in Iowa especially has moved to a toss-up, liberals are growing more vocal for Warren to step in. 

"Appearances be damned — she's got to go. She'd be an asset to them," griped Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard, a former spokesman for now-Secretary of State John Kerry's failed 2004 presidential run.

"She should go," added Neil Sroka, communications director for the liberal Democracy For America.

"We wouldn't be surprised” about a Warren visit, predicted Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). 

Taylor said that PCCC has raised more than $1 million this campaign cycle from people "who are part of the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party."

Though Warren hasn't appeared in Iowa or in New Hampshire, she has raised $298,000 for Shaheen and $41,000 for Braley. She hosted a Boston fundraiser in June for Shaheen and has also sent fundraising emails for both Braley and Shaheen. 

There’s no apparent campaign visit scheduled for Iowa or New Hampshire, and representatives for both Shaheen and Braley declined to directly answer whether or not she's been invited.

"Senator Warren is a champion for the middle class and working families and we appreciate her support," said Harrell Kirstein, a spokesman for Shaheen's campaign.

Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose declined to comment.

Ballard said that should Warren decide to visit either state, she'll need to have a plan ready to deal with the presidential buzz.

"She's got to have a message ready about how this is not a presidential run — or at least come clean about her presidential ambitions," he said.

Polls have Braley in a tight race in Iowa with Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D). Meanwhile, Shaheen has a comfortable lead against Warren's political nemesis: Scott Brown, who was a GOP senator from Massachusetts until Warren beat him in 2012.

"While I understand politically she might want to avoid the back-and-forth of the, 'Will she or won't she run for president?' there's no doubt in my mind that it'd be a boon to those candidates," Sroka said. "But yeah, it'd no doubt drum up 2016 buzz, too."