Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenLobbying world Sanders open to supporting primary challengers against Manchin and Sinema Warren dodges on whether Sinema, Manchin should be challenged in primaries MORE (D-Mass.) says she won't run for president. Many observers speculate the now-senior senator from Massachusetts is either biding her time or is waiting for an honest-to-goodness serious draft. For someone who was just elected to the Senate in 2012, the she has become a major name and force in the Democratic Party.
The presumptive front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE, has already adopted Warren's language about the American political system being "rigged" in favor of the wealthy and powerful. She went even further, in what could have been Warren herself talking, and proclaimed in her announcement speech "that the cards were stacked" against the average citizen.
Clinton in no way wants Warren in the race. She will do everything to make sure that does not happen. She has already sent Warren a few bouquets by repeatedly mentioning her in the most favorable of ways. Singing her praises will not stop. Clinton's fears of Warren are real and substantial.
First, Warren has a passionate following. Her anti-Wall Street and big bank rhetoric directly appeals to the liberal progressive populist wing of the Democratic Party. They are noisy and vote in great numbers in the nominating process.
Second, Warren can raise big bucks. Not to the same degree as Clinton, but don't underestimate her potential in this department. For her Senate race three years ago, this first-time candidate raised $42 million. Quite impressive for a mere law professor.
Warren's greatest asset and strength is in every statement and appearance she presents herself as a "fighter" for the consumer. The "consumer" is every one of us. She also speaks in English. Not pol-speak. No euphemisms or "on this hand and on the other hand." Her pronouncements are distinguished by their clarity. For instance: "Working families have been getting slammed." Or even more direct: the political system is "protecting those who have made it." People understand and identify with what she is saying. And best of all for her, they agree with what she is saying.
If Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema White House to make 400 million N95 masks available for free MORE (I-Vt.) is not their cup of tea, Warren stands for the same things, but seems more acceptable and electable. Her most recent victory was on the president's attempt to move his bill on fast-track trade authority. President Obama was stopped by his own party. Only one Democratic senator, Tom Carper of Delaware, voted with him on Tuesday.
Warren, with the powerful assist of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), proved that not only is she vocal but, much more important, she is effective in getting things done. The president complained in an interview recently that, "The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else." This was a petty and personal attack. And the use of her first name rather than her full name or "Sen. Warren" is pretty alarming and smacks of being patronizing and, as Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (D-Ohio) said, "disrespectful."
One other point on Obama's effort to pass the trade bill. The reason almost everyone abandoned him in his own party — even pro-trade senators like Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Chris Coons (Del.) — is that Obama has the reputation of only reaching out and contacting members of his own party only when he needs them. He has never tried to forge any real friendships. He doesn't seek to even get to know them in any meaningful way. After seven years, the Democratic senators have had enough. They don't seem to have any affection for him and don't mind embarrassing — even humiliating — him.
Elizabeth Warren is the champion of the average Joe. That's one powerful asset and she very well might decide not to sit it out in 2016.
Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.