Female senators urge Warren: Back Hillary Clinton

Female senators urge Warren: Back Hillary Clinton
© Greg Nash

Female Democratic senators are privately urging Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFederal court rules consumer bureau structure unconstitutional Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE to formally endorse Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance Melania Trump puzzles with 'I really don't care' jacket Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report MORE for president.

The lobbying campaign comes as the Democratic race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump thinks like an authoritarian Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Trump's America fights back MORE (I-Vt.) is heating up going into the New Hampshire primary next week. 

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A group of Democratic ­senators is taking a bus tour of New Hampshire this weekend to stump for Clinton, and they want the liberal Massachusetts powerhouse to get on board. Clinton narrowly defeated Sanders in the Iowa caucuses earlier this week, but the Vermont senator is a heavy favorite to win New Hampshire.

A few of the senators have discussed with Warren the possibility of publicly backing Clinton. However, they’ve been careful not to put a lot of public pressure on their colleague, who is fiercely independent and has a loyal following among progressives.

“I’m hopeful she’ll join us. I’m hopeful she’ll join the revolution that will allow us to come together to elect” the first female president, said Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowModerates need to hold firm against radical right on Farm Bill New Kid Rock film explores political divide Congress must work with, not against, tribal communities in crafting Farm Bill MORE (D-Mich.), one of Clinton’s staunchest supporters.

Asked if she or other senators had approached Warren personally, Stabenow said, “We all talk about it,” but declined to reveal what Warren has said in response.

Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (Md.), the dean of the Senate’s Democratic women, has also talked to Warren about backing Clinton.

“I’ve told Sen. Warren that we would welcome her anytime she’s ready,” she said.

Warren is the only female Democratic senator who has not endorsed Clinton.

Mikulski indicated she is not making a hard sell. She’s more focused on revving up Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“I’m going up to New Hampshire to be on a bus tour with [Clinton] on Friday. Many of the Democratic women of the Senate are going to do that. And we’re getting ready to organize another tour in South Carolina,” she said.

Warren declined to comment in the Capitol Wednesday, and her office did not return a request for comment.

An endorsement from Warren would be very valuable now. Sanders is leading Clinton by double digits in New Hampshire, where Warren has a higher profile than in most states because it’s part of the Boston media market.

Clinton is likely to pick up the endorsement of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was the first female Speaker. Pelosi, who is revered by progressives, told The Hill on Tuesday she will endorse in the primary, and all indications suggest she will back the former first lady. 

Warren, meanwhile, has been coy. 

This week, Warren told reporters, “No endorsements now.” She said she is proud that her party’s White House hopefuls are focusing on the issues voters care about. Asked if she’d endorse a candidate following the Iowa caucuses, Warren responded, “We’ll see.”

Clinton has labored to compete with Sanders for liberal activists and young voters, two blocs that helped then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos Clarifying the power of federal agencies could offer Trump a lasting legacy Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points MORE (Ill.) defeat her in the 2008 presidential primary. Warren, an idealist who often takes on Wall Street interests aggressively, is popular with those voters.

A Democratic aide said the Senate women have been “trying to do a little arm twisting in recent months.”

“Her role in this campaign would be valuable,” the staffer said. “I think she’s gotten more attention than most senators, and I think it would mean a lot.”

Other women in the Senate have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the campaign for Clinton, which they see as a historic opportunity to advance women’s rights.

Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump Dem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy Actress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding MORE (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenAmerica will not forget about Pastor Andrew Brunson Shaheen sidelined after skin surgery Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit MORE (D-N.H.) said they would also participate on the New Hampshire bus tour.

“I’m heading up Thursday night. We’ll have a bus of women senators traveling around the state doing campaign events, and I’m really excited about it,” said Gillibrand, who is seen as a possible future presidential candidate. 

Democratic Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDem senators introduce bill to ban controversial voter purges Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE (Minn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Ellison introduces bill to curb stock buybacks Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads MORE (Wis.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillConservative group calls for ethics probe into McCaskill’s use of private plane Senate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE (Mo.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Fourth Senate Dem calls for Nielsen to resign over family separation policy Dem lawmaker calls on Nielsen to resign over ‘volume of lies’ about family separations MORE (Hawaii), Gillibrand and Stabenow campaigned for Clinton in Iowa. Gillibrand and McCaskill have also campaigned for her in Nevada.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (D-Calif.) is planning to attend fundraisers for Clinton in her home state.

Some female senators say they haven’t pressed Warren.

“I think Elizabeth will make her decision when she wants to make her decision. I don’t think it affects Hillary’s candidacy at all,” Gillibrand said.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), a longtime Clinton supporter, said while she hadn’t heard of the backroom conversations, “I think they are trying to get endorsements from as many people as they can get. She’s kind of a media darling, a real populist ... and having her endorsement would be a good thing.”

“I think it meant a lot to have her endorsement on the plan to reform Wall Street,” she said, adding that it was a good first step. 

Clinton and Warren are two of the brightest lights of the Democratic Party, both with loyal followings. But their relationship has run warm and cold over the years.

Liberal activists tried to draft Warren to run for president against Clinton this year, despite many protestations that she was not interested.

In early 2013, Warren along with the rest of the Democratic women in the Senate signed a letter urging Clinton to run for president, but she has since clarified that it did not signify an endorsement.

Warren and Clinton have disagreed most pointedly on issues affecting Wall Street, which Clinton used to represent when she served as New York’s junior senator from 2001 to 2008.

Warren told journalist Bill Moyers in a 2004 interview that Clinton flip-flopped on key bankruptcy legislation after winning election to the Senate. 

As first lady in the late 1990s, Clinton helped persuade President Clinton to veto the bill, which Warren argued at the time would hurt single mothers. But once Clinton was representing New York’s financial services industry in Congress, she voted for it.

“As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different. It’s a well-financed industry,” Warren told Moyers. “She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.”

Their relationship was sufficiently tense that Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe case for a ‘Presidents’ Club’ to advise Trump After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself Bill Clinton hits Trump administration policy separating immigrant families in Father's Day tweet MORE did not campaign for Warren when she ran for the Senate against then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012. The former president offered his support with an email fundraising solicitation, but he declined to appear with her in person.