WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a liberal firebrand and Wall Street antagonist, took the first step toward a 2020 White House run on Monday, becoming the most prominent Democrat to announce a challenge to Republican President Donald Trump.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) leaves after delivering a major policy speech on “Ending corruption in Washington” at the National Press Club, Washington, U.S., August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Warren said she had formed an exploratory committee, which will allow her to begin raising campaign funding as part of what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field before the November 2020 presidential election.
Warren, 69, who became a senator from Massachusetts in 2013, has frequently clashed with Trump, who has cast aspersions on Warren’s claim to Native American ancestry and mockingly referred to her as “Pocahontas.”
Warren released a video in which she outlines her vision of a path to opportunity for all Americans, not just the wealthy.
“Every person in America should be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules, & take care of themselves & the people they love,” she said in a Twitter post. “That’s what I’m fighting for, & that’s why I’m launching an exploratory committee for president. I need you with me.”
Warren said in September she would take a “hard look” at running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Trump in 2020. The former Harvard Law School professor campaigned with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 and attacked Trump as an “insecure money grubber” driven by greed and hate.
Earlier this month, Julian Castro, 44, who was mayor of San Antonio and secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Democratic President Barack Obama, said he was forming an exploratory committee and would announce his intentions on Jan. 12.
In 2017, former Democratic congressman John Delaney of Maryland said he would seek the party’s nomination.
FOCUS ON WALL STREET
Warren has been a strong voice in the U.S. Senate on financial issues and a self-described defender of the ordinary American against powerful interests.
Following the 2007-2009 global financial crisis, she emerged as a leading critic of Wall Street and continues to advocate for stiffer regulation and oversight, including reinstating a rule that would separate banks’ retail business from their riskier investment banking activities.
Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has vigorously fought the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken post-crisis financial rules, going as far as to attack moderate Democrats who backed a May rewrite of the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform law.
In a September interview marking 10 years since the financial crisis, Warren was asked about wanting to break up big banks. “Oh yeah,” she told the New York Times. “Give me a chance.”
She also has opposed the administration’s efforts to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she helped create, and has pressurized the Federal Reserve to take a tough line on scandal-hit lender Wells Fargo (WFC.N).
In October, Warren released a DNA analysis she said supported her assertion that she had Native American lineage that goes back six to 10 generations.
Trump, who had promised $1 million to her favorite charity if she took a DNA test that showed she had Native American blood, greeted the results with a shrug, saying, “Who cares?”
Trump’s use of the name Pocahontas refers to a 17th century Native American woman associated with the British colony in Jamestown, Virginia, and was aimed at drawing attention to a controversy over her heritage raised during Warren’s 2012 Senate race. Trump’s mocking reference has drawn criticism from some Native American groups while others criticized Warren for trying to lay claim to a tribal nation.
The website announcing Warren’s exploratory committee portrays her as a product of the American dream that has slipped out of reach for too many Americans.
“America’s middle class is under attack,” Warren says on the website’s video. “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.”
Additional reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Bill Trott