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 WarrenLive coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Budowsky: Dems madder than hell MORE to formally endorse Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump supporter buys billboard slamming ABC News over Russia scandal coverage Innocent until proven guilty: Lawyering up doesn’t make Mike Pence or anyone else guilty Obama plans to campaign for Va. Dem gov nominee MORE for president.

The lobbying campaign comes as the Democratic race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism Obama plans to campaign for Va. Dem gov nominee Sanders: I hope McConnell listened to protesters outside his office 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 StabenowDebbie StabenowNo certainty on cost-sharing payments to insurers Dems express concerns about Trump's proposed rural development cuts Trump, Clinton campaign aides launch their own bids 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 MikulskiBipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? 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 ObamaOvernight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism Obama slams 'fundamental meanness' of Senate healthcare bill Obama WH ethics lawyer: Lack of Comey tapes example of 'witness intimidation' 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 GillibrandBipartisan senators seek to boost expertise in military justice system Mattis gaining power in Trump’s Cabinet What do Democrats stand for? MORE (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenSenate overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions deal Russia sanctions deal clears key Senate hurdle Overnight Cybersecurity: Sessions denies Russia collusion | First agency gets 'A' grade on IT | Feds out North Korean botnet | Unusual security update for Windows XP 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 KlobucharGoing national with automatic voter registration Wildfires won't stop at the edge of public land — sustainability policy shouldn't either Klobuchar defends Senate Democrats on Trump nominations MORE (Minn.), Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger In Wisconsin, Trump touts 'earn while you learn' jobs push MORE (Wis.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators question need for HHS cyber office Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems We must protect our most vulnerable from financial fraudsters MORE (Mo.), Mazie HironoMazie HironoSenate Dem offers patent reform bill Office of Government Ethics: Bannon’s waiver 'problematic' Twitter mocks GOP for using movie gif to dismiss Comey statement MORE (Hawaii), Gillibrand and Stabenow campaigned for Clinton in Iowa. Gillibrand and McCaskill have also campaigned for her in Nevada.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs 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 ClintonBill ClintonTrump wants to keep new immigrants from getting welfare — which is already law Budowsky: Dems madder than hell Misreading lessons of an evolving electorate 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.