By Alexander Bolton - 09/06/12 02:22 AM EDT
Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren railed against an enterprise system “rigged” against the middle class and cast Mitt Romney as siding with special interests who have set the rules.
Warren, a leading proponent of overhauling the financial services industry, portrayed herself and President Obama as the allies of ordinary Americans and Romney as a champion of corporate America seeing no difference between multinational firms and families.
Warren, a Harvard law professor who is in a dead-heat race against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), sought to ally herself with middle- and working-class voters, recalling her upbringing on the “ragged edge of the middle class.”
She did not mention Brown in her remarks but she mentioned “middle class” eight times in a not-so-subtle bid to tell voters that despite her Ivy-League pedigree, she is one of them.
Warren has been portrayed at times as high-handed or lacking a common touch in her race against Brown, who won election to the Senate in 2010 by campaigning in a pickup truck and a Carhart jacket.
She recounted waiting tables at 13, getting married at 19 and teaching elementary school after graduating from public school. She talked about her father who sold carpeting and mother who answered phones at Sears.
Warren blamed oil companies and investment banks for creating an economy that caters to their bottom lines instead of average prosperity.
“The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them,” she said.
She took credit for proposing the consumer financial protection agency Congress enacted two years ago to police Wall Street and lauded Obama for standing up to the lobbying offensive it provoked.
“He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable,” she said. “Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street.
In an unusual twist, she quoted a passage from the Gospel of Matthew to set up her final rallying cry.
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” she said before quoting Ted Kennedy, tying herself to the legendary senator whose seat she is trying to reclaim for Democrats.
“Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, ‘We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world,’” she said, asking the assembled Democratic crowd if they were ready to answer his call by fighting to for “a strong middle class” and a “level playing field.”