Nobody paid hundreds of dollars to hear Elizabeth Warren speak on Sunday. There were no black-tie awards, galas or catered meals.
The event was free.
While Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic frontrunner for a 2016 presidential run, is getting panned for her sky-high speaking fees, the Massachusetts Senator is headlining town hall forums with one of the most highly-coveted voting blocs: Latinos.
The progressive Democrat tailored her signature message of railing against corporate lobbyist and big banks to match the crowd gathered for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Sunday. They didn’t want to hear a grandiose speech about what Washington is getting right — they wanted relief from the everyday strains on their pocketbooks: from student loans to predatory lending; low-paying jobs to foreclosure.
“Across this country, Latino families were robbed by people wearing white shirts and big smiles while regulators looked the other way,” Warren recalled of the foreclosure crisis. “The game is rigged and it’s not right … the way I see it is that we can whine about it, we can whimper about, or we can fight back.“
“That’s why I’m here,” Warren said.
While much of the conference focused on the policy matters in Washington that affect the Latino community, Warren was one of very few lawmakers from Congress scheduled to show up to the four-day confab in Los Angeles. No Republicans were expected to speak either, a missed opportunity to court the largest Latino advocacy group in the country all gathered together for their annual convention.
For the attendees at the conference unwilling to see Hillary Clinton as the de facto future of the Democratic Party, Warren was a welcome change of pace. Though the Democrat has aggressively denounced any rumors that she is considering a shot at claiming the Oval Office one day, supporters see Warren as a formidable candidate to not only challenge Clinton but get the Democratic base fired up for 2016.
Ahead of wooing the Latino crowd, Warren was greeted to a chorus of “Run Liz, Run!” chants at the Netroots conference in Detroit this week. Before that, she traveled from red states to blue states to rally crowds in support of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate up for tough re-elections. This all after a book tour in the spring to major cities throughout the country, spreading her gospel against Wall Street and corporate lobbyists.
A former Obama campaign staffer has already launched Ready for Warren encouraging the freshman senator to run. The group even released an indie music video urging the Democrat to “Run Liz, Run.”
Conservatives are beginning to take note as well. Anti-Clinton groups are shifting gears to issue “Warren Warnings” to supporters with hopes to raise money against a potential candidacy.
The outpouring of pro-Warren sentiment at the NCLR conference is not to say that she wouldn’t face an uphill climb to beat out Clinton who is leading in virtually every poll. But her stand in solidarity for immigration reform brought the crowd to their feet.
“We just have to get louder and we have to get louder together,” Warren said. “It’s not just the sole responsibility for the Latino community to push immigration reform.”