Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off

Aides and allies to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Trump steadfast in denials as support for impeachment grows MORE (D-Mass.) say her policy proposals are showing signs of paying off in the Democratic primary race.

Warren has offered a steady series of proposals on a number of issues, from creating a wealth tax to improving housing for military families, that have won media attention and positive nods from liberals looking for substance in the crowded field of Democratic contenders.

The policy papers are a part of Warren’s wonky brand, and her supporters are embracing them with T-shirts that say “I have a plan for that,” the motto for Warren’s campaign.

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“Every day she is on the trail making clear how she diagnoses problems, where she sees solutions and that she is a candidate of substance,” said one aide to Warren.

In private conversations, the Massachusetts senator has long concluded that the party won’t win just by being anti-President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE.

The winning candidate has to also have a vision for their agenda as president, and that’s the strategy she has seized on, those close to her say. 

“Democrats can’t just be the party of resistance,” the aide to Warren said. “If we want to beat Donald Trump, we also have to be a party of ideas and a party of vision. We have to demonstrate our commitment to making real change in the economy and in Washington.” 

Unaffiliated Democratic strategists have also been impressed with Warren’s strategy.

“It seems like they’re doing a nice tortoise-and-the-hare-slow-and-steady climb, running the race they want and ignoring the day-to-day hype,” said Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist. “I think that people are definitely paying attention to and liking her policy proposals.”

Warren has appeared at more than 70 town halls and won praise from pundits after a CNN town hall last month. After Warren addressed criminal justice at a “She the People” event aimed at black women, she received a standing ovation.  

Vale said Warren is using her policy bent to change people’s impressions of her. He said supporters and possible supporters aren’t “seeing the wonky professor stereotype but a great public speaker weaving her policies in with values, emotion and her personal story.”

Warren is trending in the right direction when it comes to the polls.

A Fox News poll out this week showed her support more than double from 4 percent in March to 9 percent this month, placing her in third place behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Yang: Standing next to Biden on debate stage would help boost name recognition MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll MORE (I-Vt.). 

Other recent surveys also show her gaining on Sanders, setting up what could be an intense match-up for the progressive vote. 

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Allies say her policy positions will set her apart from Sanders. They are quick to highlight that there is daylight between Warren and Sanders on issues including reparations, filibuster reform and even impeachment.

Warren and Sanders also handled the idea of a Fox News town hall differently. Sanders welcomed the offer, appearing on the cable network last month while making an appeal to independents and disenfranchised Republicans. 

This week, Warren rejected her invitation from the cable network, hammering it on Twitter as a “hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists.”

“From 30,000 feet, it looks like they’re competing in the same lane, but in actuality, they’re quite different, not just in terms of some policy but in terms of style, approach and the way they’re conducting their campaigns,” one Warren ally said of Warren and Sanders.

There’s still a big difference between Warren’s poll numbers and Biden’s.

A Gravis poll from April 17 and April 18 in Iowa had Biden and Sanders at 19 percent, compared to 14 percent for South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg wouldn't reverse US embassy move to Jerusalem: 'What's done is done' Buttigieg wouldn't reverse US embassy move to Jerusalem: 'What's done is done' Buttigieg: Iran situation 'disturbingly reminiscent' of lead-up to Iraq War MORE and 6 percent for Warren and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers MORE (D-Calif.).

A Monmouth poll earlier this month in New Hampshire also had Biden in first place with 36 percent and Sanders in second with 18 percent. Warren was fourth at 8 percent, 1 percentage point behind Buttigieg and ahead of Harris.

While allies are convinced she’s on an upward trajectory, they say the perception some have that she can’t defeat Trump is a problem.

“There’s this notion this cycle that a man is the only one who can take on Trump,” the ally said. “I think a lot of people also believe that she only speaks to progressives, but I think if you pay attention to what she’s saying, she’s speaking to a lot of different people.

“I think she’s going to have to make the electability case in no uncertain terms,” the ally said. “She’s going to have to spell out why she’s the one who can take on Trump.”

Nonetheless, a sense of optimism has returned to the Warren camp in recent weeks even as Biden’s entry into the race has set him up as its clear front-runner.

Her supporters hope that as more and more voters tune in to the campaign, she will reel Biden and Sanders in.

“I never have to ask myself whose side she's on,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a Democratic strategist who has served as a longtime aide to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE. “She’s gotten out in front of a lot of big things. You ask her if she supports impeachment, she says yes. You ask her for details on her policies, she takes the time to explain it to you. I think she’s pretty straightforward. A lot of these people have 'proposals' but there’s not much to them.”

“She’s the opposite of that,” he said.