Elizabeth Warren makes fiery campaign debut in Iowa after a whirlwind kickoff week

Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered her first live pitch to presidential primary voters in Iowa on Friday night ...

Posted: Jan 6, 2019 10:57 AM
Updated: Jan 6, 2019 10:57 AM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered her first live pitch to presidential primary voters in Iowa on Friday night with a signature and searing indictment of the powerful interests she blames for corrupting government and decimating the American working class.

The trip is an early test for the Massachusetts Democrat's growing political operation, which unveiled a slate of touted hires this week, and a candidate determined to show that her populist economic message can conjure up excitement for her campaign in Iowa's traditional proving grounds.

Continents and regions

Elizabeth Warren

Iowa

Midwestern United States

North America

Political Figures - US

The Americas

United States

Campaign finance

Donald Trump

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Political Action Committees

Political candidates

Political donations and fundraising

Political organizations

Politics

Primaries and caucuses

US Democratic Party

US Federal elections

US political parties

US Presidential elections

2020 Presidential election

Demographic groups

Population and demographics

Social and economic status

Society

Wealthy people

"This is the fight of our lives," Warren told an overflow crowd at an event space attached to a bowling alley in Council Bluffs, the first stop in a swing that will include at least four more over the weekend. "I am determined that we build an America where not just the children of rich people get a chance to build something, but where all of our children get a chance to build a real future. That's what I'm in this fight for."

During a question and answer session that followed her remarks, Warren was quizzed on where she thought the Democratic Party was headed in the run-up the 2020 election. After touting the public education -- and government investment in the economy -- that provided her a pathway to personal and professional successes, she boiled it down to a single issue.

"The fundamental question, the sole question," facing the party and voters, Warren said, is "who do we want government to work for?"

Warren's travels will first track the state's western border, taking her from Council Bluffs up to a Saturday event in Sioux City. Then it's a dash east to Storm Lake before setting out for Des Moines. Warren will also convene a conversation with female leaders in nearby Ankeny on Sunday morning.

The trip is her first here in more than four years -- an aide confirmed that her last visit to Iowa came in October 2014 to campaign for former Rep. Bruce Braley when he ran, unsuccessfully, for Senate against Republican Joni Ernst.

This time around, Warren took center stage.

With the the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on Monday, she effectively kicked off the 2020 primary more than 13 months before caucusgoers in Iowa will begin casting their votes. By Friday, she was standing in front of 500 people, according to a staffer -- 300 inside, 200 outside on a crisp western Iowa night -- pitching herself, and her message, as the antidote to growing economic inequity and a faltering health care system.

But she also faced at least one fraught question, from a former student who said she backed Warren's bid but worried that her former professor's support for abortion rights would sink her chances in the Midwest.

Warren greeted her old friend warmly, but dug in on her position.

"For me, this is a question about the role of law," she said. "I know that these are very hard personal family decisions. I think the role of government here is to back out. I think a woman makes a decision with her family, her priest, her doctor, the people the woman chooses, and I think that's what respects all of us the most."

Warren's remarks, which were briefly rendered almost inaudible when her mic lost power, included a call to volunteer and back a campaign she has pledged will not accept corporate cash.

"This is going to be a grass-roots campaign," Warren said. "I'm here to ask every one of you to be a part of this, anything you can do: Volunteer, take a sign, pitch in five bucks, any part of it."

Jumping out of the gate on the last day of 2018, before so many other likely candidates but only after hundreds of post-midterm election calls to grass-roots leaders in key early voting states including New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, allowed her to seize the national spotlight. Warren has since rolled out what is shaping up as an estimable staff, which includes alumni from the campaigns of former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"That she was able to hire some top-tier folks while having a really challenging month tells you something," Rebecca Katz, a progressive strategist and former aide to retired Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, told CNN. Those staffers "know Iowa better than anyone and they know that there's some magic there. The people who actually know Iowa understand that it's a long game and they understand who actually connects in a living room. And they see something special in Elizabeth Warren."

That slate also now includes Obama's former chief digital strategist, Joe Rospars, who had a lead role on both of the former president's campaigns. Rospars will oversee Warren's grass-roots mobilization, national operations and planning in the early states, according to two sources familiar with the staffing moves. Warren has also recruited Richard McDaniel, the former field and political director for Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones and senior adviser to the young progressive Randall Woodfin's mayoral campaign in Birmingham.

Warren's team will hope this opening week -- Instagram live beer-slugging and tea-sipping included -- begins to dim the spotlight on what many Democrats viewed as an ill-advised attempt last year to prove her claims to Native American ancestry with a DNA test. She made the results, which confirmed her earlier statements, public in a five-and-a-half minute video released nearly 12 weeks ago.

But the process angered some tribal leaders and predictably failed to quiet President Donald Trump's mocking attacks, which he ramped up in a Fox News interview and on Twitter after her announcement on Monday.

Warren brushed off Trump's comments when asked about them by reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill but responded to a Politico story, which explored soon after her announcement the notion that she might be unlikable, with a cheeky tweet and fundraising email.

"If you get frustrated when commentators spend more time covering Elizabeth or any woman's 'likability' than her plans for huge, systemic change to make this country work for all of us," the appeal went, "do something productive about it." (For the purposes of the email, that meant donating $5 to Warren's cause.)

In an extended interview Wednesday with MSNBC, Warren warned against allowing super PACs and self-funding candidates to gain a foothold in the coming primary. The comments were an unmistakable shot across the gilded bows of billionaire potential candidates Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, and investor Tom Steyer.

Both men spent heavily to back Democrats during the midterm elections and have flirted -- not for the first time -- with runs of their own.

"I think this is a moment for all of the Democratic candidates as they come into the race to say: In a Democratic primary, we are going to link arms and we're going to grass-roots funding," Warren said, without naming names. "No to the billionaires."

Her allies at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee seized on the call, sending out an email that celebrated her "big challenge to other candidates" and provided links to pre-scripted tweets asking a dozen other contenders if they agreed that Democrats running for president should "say no to billionaire Super PACs, no to self-funding, and yes to grassroots-driven campaigns."

Warren has pushed ahead with that message, which has over more than a decade helped establish her particular place in the national political firmament, as she introduced herself anew to Democratic voters earlier this week.

In a video announcing her decision to form an exploratory committee, Warren did what other Democrats have in the past shied away from -- pointing specifically to the people, party and institutions she blames for hollowing out the American working class. She pledged to root out corruption in government and impose stricter regulations on Wall Street banks.

"These aren't 'cracks' that families are falling into; they are traps," Warren said. "America's middle class is under attack. How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 318894

Reported Deaths: 5561
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion43391855
Lake27599462
Allen18363299
Elkhart17474226
St. Joseph17071234
Hamilton13376169
Vanderburgh9839121
Tippecanoe880629
Porter844886
Johnson6556169
Hendricks6267158
Vigo618187
Monroe542850
Clark522877
Madison5153122
Delaware5014103
LaPorte474695
Kosciusko468540
Howard357977
Warrick329872
Floyd324978
Bartholomew323563
Wayne318074
Marshall308146
Cass302631
Grant282050
Noble261546
Hancock260355
Henry252837
Boone248754
Dubois242931
Dearborn222631
Jackson222534
Morgan215543
Knox189720
Shelby189556
Gibson189426
Clinton182121
DeKalb181632
Lawrence179748
Adams171022
Wabash168121
Miami166614
Daviess160144
Steuben150713
Fayette150034
Jasper147413
Montgomery146627
Harrison145524
LaGrange145031
Whitley140814
Ripley138515
Huntington130910
Decatur128243
Wells127930
Putnam127828
White127522
Clay126523
Randolph126121
Posey124116
Jefferson122916
Scott112320
Greene104653
Jay100713
Sullivan99216
Starke94021
Jennings88714
Fulton86419
Spencer8588
Perry83721
Fountain8078
Washington7837
Franklin71327
Carroll69613
Orange69028
Vermillion6444
Owen6317
Tipton58927
Parke5886
Newton56912
Rush5658
Blackford54012
Pike51619
Pulaski41115
Martin3645
Benton3553
Brown3514
Crawford3031
Union2752
Switzerland2605
Warren2542
Ohio2337
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 40°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntington
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 41°
Decatur
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 45°
Van Wert
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 45°
Mostly Cloudy Black Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events