Clinton quiet as Warren rises

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders shares star power with NY House hopeful Trump, Clinton fundraising off Brexit vote UK vote triggers talks with US MORE and her allies were quiet while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAl Franken says he would be Clinton's vice president if asked Why Elizabeth Warren shouldn't be Clinton's VP pick The Trail 2016: Berning embers MORE (D-Mass.) led a Democratic uprising in the Senate over changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included by Republicans in a $1.1 trillion government-funding bill.

Clinton didn’t make a peep as Warren, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other congressional liberals tore into the White House for acquiescing to the changes.

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The reason for Clinton’s silence, some of her staunchest supporters say, is that she likely supported the spending bill — even if she didn’t want to go on record with that support.

“I don’t think she would have considered the legislation deeply flawed,” said one ally. “She would have some issues with it, of course, and she’d think that it’s not a perfect bill but I don’t think she would have taken Warren’s stance.”

Clinton allies also echo the White House in arguing that it was better to make a concession with Republicans and move a spending bill negotiated by Senate Democratic appropriators than to reject it, which might have led to a short-term continuing resolution and more leverage for Republicans next year when that party controls both chambers of Congress.

“Other bills have been far, far more detrimental,” another Clinton ally said. “The pros here outweighed the cons.” 

That might be the case, but there’s no doubt Warren’s opposition to the bill raised her profile and pepped the spirits of grassroots liberals hoping she’ll enter the 2016 fight for the White House as a rival to Clinton.

Many on the left have groused about Clinton, who is seen as the runaway favorite for the Democratic nomination if she chooses to make a second White House bid.

Clinton is seen as close to Wall Street because of her years as a New York senator and her husband’s administration, where years of economic growth were managed at the Treasury Department by Secretary Robert Rubin, a veteran of Citibank.

That’s the same entity that pushed for the change to the Wall Street reform bill that was included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill. It allows banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to engage in derivatives trading.

Clinton supporters say it’s not fair and too simplistic to paint Warren as the anti-Wall Street crusader and Clinton as a friend of big banks.

“There’s a perception out there that she’s Wall Street’s biggest champion,” said one former Clinton aide who worked on her 2008 presidential campaign. “That’s not true. She’s just more moderate. And she thinks that we’ve got to support Wall Street within reason.”

And while Clinton allies acknowledge the last week has given more oxygen to the idea of a Warren candidacy, they aren’t signaling it will move up an announcement by Clinton.

The former secretary of State, in fact, seemed to signal last week that an announcement on her White House prospects could wait until late spring.

Clinton allies also think that a bigger movement that the anti-Wall Street camp favors her candidacy: the anti-gridlock movement.

Voters are tired of a dysfunctional Washington and want leaders who can make the government work.

Clinton, like her husband, knows that Democrats have to work with Republicans to move on legislation, her allies say.  

“When she was in the Senate, she worked across the aisle,” one Clinton ally said. “And she knows she’s going to have to do the same thing should she become president.”

Warren, for her part, earned some comparisons to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as she energized House Democrats to challenge their leadership and president over the spending bill.

Warren is “an anti-Wall Street crusader,” the first Clinton ally said. “That’s what she does. I don’t think Secretary Clinton views things the same way. She’s not currying favors to Wall Street by doing this but she just sees it differently.”

Warren has insisted she’s not running for the White House, even as MoveOn.Org tried to lure her into the race by launching "Run Warren Run," a website for supporters. As of Monday, more than 23,500 people have liked "Run Warren Run" on Facebook.

At the same time, more than 300 former Obama campaign staffers, from the 2008 and 2012 cycles, wrote an open letter to Warren urging her to run for president.

“I think Sen. Warren is tapping into strongly held concerns by many Americans that they don’t have a shot at a fair deal,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

Sources in Clinton World say they don’t think Warren will challenge Clinton for the nomination. And if she does, they think Clinton will retain a huge edge with Democratic donors and because of her organization.

Warren on Monday repeated the notion that she is “not running for president.”

“That’s not what we’re doing,” Warren told NPR’s Steve Inskeep. “We had a really important fight in the United States Congress just this past week. And I’m putting all my energy into that fight and to what happens after this.”

When Inskeep pressed her about using the present tense to describe whether or not she’d run, Warren repeated once again, “I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?”