Rep. Keith Ellison (R) (D-MN) testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee, Dec. 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.
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Keith Ellison: ‘I would love to see Elizabeth Warren’ run

Updated

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Thursday night that he hopes Sen. Elizabeth Warren runs for president in 2016.

“I would love to see Elizabeth Warren in this race. I think it would be fantastic. I think that it would help the quality of the debate and she may win,” he said on a conference call with members of Democracy for America (DFA), a progressive group that is trying to draft Warren. “But even if she doesn’t, I think she’ll make Hillary Clinton a better candidate.”

That’s the closest any major elected official has come to endorsing the Massachusetts Democrat, who has said repeatedly that she is not going to run for president.

Ellison added that he feared Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the nominee, “could just walk into the general [election] without having committed to some important real, real economic populism.”

“So, I’m supportive of what [DFA] is doing, I’m supportive of what MoveOn is doing, and I think Elizabeth Warren is one of the great, bright lights of our time,” he added.

MoveOn.org and DFA, which grew out of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, officially kicked off their campaign to draft Warren Wednesday in Iowa, and have together committed $1.25 million to the effort.

Earlier in the call, Ellison offered warning to moderate Democrats. “We also want to let our weak-kneed Democratic friends know that we’re watching, and if they’re standing with the corporatocracy and the big banks, we’ll find some other people who will stand with the people,” he said.

In an interview a few months ago with the liberal AmericaBlog, Ellison called for pushing Democratic presidential candidates through activism. ” We will get the candidate we’re looking if we are in the streets and set forth an agenda they then need to adopt,” he said. “When politicians feel the heat, they tend to see the light.”

Ellison endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

DFA is now run by Dean’s brother Jim, and even though they’re supporting Warren, Howard Dean is backing Clinton. ”That’s just fine, not withstanding the enormous number of phone calls I’ve been getting from fam therapists offering their help,” Jim Dean said on the call.

Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison: 'I would love to see Elizabeth Warren' run

Updated