Sen. Elizabeth Warren is set to bolster her Senate resume next year, sparking early talk about a 2020 presidential bid.

The Massachusetts Democrat will join the Armed Services Committee in 2017, branching out beyond the tough-on-Wall Street message that made her a liberal favorite.  

Warren has tied the decision to her family — her three brothers served in the military — and Massachusetts ranks in the top 10 states on military spending, according to a Pentagon report.

{mosads}But the announcement spawned a wave of a media speculation that Warren is filling portfolio gaps to position herself for a 2020 presidential run.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell called the step a “very important move that could be a first step in a presidential campaign.”

The Washington Post’s Daily 202 — a morning rundown aimed at decisionmakers inside Washington — speculated that Warren and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is separately joining the Foreign Relations Committee, “very clearly want to seek the presidency for themselves in 2020.”

Liberals unsuccessfully pressured Warren to run in 2016, and talk of a 2020 White House bid began even before Hillary Clinton publicly conceded the presidential race to Donald Trump on Nov. 9.  

Adam Green, who co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told Time magazine that Warren “would make a wonderful president.”

But Warren, who would be 71 years old in 2020, is so far sidestepping the White House talk. She told a local Massachusetts TV station that a White House bid next cycle wasn’t on her “radar screen.”

Pressed if she would consider a run in the future, she shot back: “Oh, come on.”

Warren’s demurring isn’t stopping conservatives from painting her decision to join the committee as purely political.

“America’s military men and women deserve better than Warren using the Armed Services Committee as yet another platform for her all-but-announced 2020 presidential campaign,” said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for America Rising Squared, an offshoot of the conservative super PAC America Rising.

He added that “Warren has fought to cut the U.S. military, weakening our nation’s security” since she joined the Senate.

Warren’s Massachusetts predecessors, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, and former Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, both served on the committee as well. 

Warren is relatively new to Washington, joining the upper chamber in 2013.

But she has quickly risen through party ranks as a leader of the progressive wing on financial issues and as a member of Senate leadership in 2015. She also used social media to flex her political muscle and position herself as a chief Trump critic during the 2016 cycle.

Moving to the Armed Services Committee will put Warren at the heart of a looming fight over Russia that is set to dominate Congress in 2017. It will also give her a megaphone to hit back at the Trump administration on national security and military spending.

Warren has already taken aim at Trump’s pick of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department, saying he’s a nominee both Republicans and Democrats would have “trouble with” because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’ve already been worried about Donald Trump’s ties to the Russians,” she told WCVB, a local TV station. 

Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America, said he would be “thrilled” if Warren runs in 2020, but said her move to join the committee is a net positive for Democrats regardless of the political implications.

“Seeing Elizabeth Warren on the Armed Services Committee and seeing her range of knowledge and experience grow is an unmitigated good thing for the Democratic Party,” he said.

Warren isn’t the only Democrat getting committee assignments in 2017 that will help broaden their portfolios and could pay off politically. Red-state Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are set to get useful perches that could bolster tough reelection bids.

But Warren’s push to join the military-focused committee is drawing comparisons to Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential pick.

The Virginia Democrat — who has ruled out his own 2020 presidential bid — was passed over as a potential No. 2 pick for President Obama in part because of his lack of foreign policy experience. When he joined the Senate in 2013, he wrangled a seat on both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and was ultimately tapped to be Clinton’s running mate.

Warren was believed to be on the shortlist for the position, but she faced skepticism over her foreign policy chops.

Ahead of a meeting with Clinton, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Clinton ally, told a Philadelphia radio station that the liberal senator “is a wonderful, bright, passionate person, but with no experience in foreign affairs and not in any way, shape or form ready to be commander in chief.”

Warren’s expansion into new territory comes as Democrats face a fierce debate over the future of the party after Clinton’s shocking loss.

Thirty-four percent of Democrats and independents would be excited for a Warren campaign, compared to 27 percent who hope she passes, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll.

Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and independents want someone new to run for president in 2020, according to the same poll.

Sroka, however, said Warren’s vocal criticism of special interests and Trump are in line with what the party’s base is looking for going forward, and she could transfer that to her position on the Armed Services Committee.

“You’re going to need someone making a forceful case against powerful businesses interests” within the military industrial complex, he said.

As for 2020, Sroka added: It’s “the kind of experience that you would want out of a president as well.”

Tags Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin Tim Kaine

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