Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a rather interesting evening. It began with a fiery speech at the American Constitution Society’s convention, where the Democratic senator shredded Donald Trump, labeling him “a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and who serves no one but himself.”
As MSNBC’s Irin Carmon added, “Just in case there was any ambiguity in how Warren sees Trump, she called him ‘a total disgrace’ and ‘a thin-skinned, racist bully,’ adding, ‘You shame yourself, and you shame this great country.’”
And soon after, Warren joined Rachel Maddow on the air, where the senator, who was strictly neutral throughout the Democratic primaries, announced her presidential endorsement: “I’m ready. I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.”
“Hillary Clinton won. And she won because she’s a fighter, she’s out there, she’s tough, and I think this is what we need. Look at who she is. For 25 years, she’s been taking the incomings, right? The right wing has thrown everything they possibly can at her.“And what does she do? A lot of people would just hang up their spurs. They’d say, ‘You know, I’ve had enough of this.’ And she doesn’t. What she’s done is she gets back up and she gets back in the fight.”
The senator added that Democrats need someone who “ought to be willing to throw a punch,” and while “there are a lot of things that people say about Hillary Clinton … nobody says that she doesn’t know how to throw a punch.”
It’s hardly a secret that there’s been considerable speculation about whether Warren might be considered for the Democrats’ vice-presidential nomination, and Warren emphasized last night that she’s not lobbying for the job. But the entirety of the political world took note last night when Rachel asked Warren if she believes she’s capable of being president.
“I know you don’t want the job,” Rachel noted. “But do you know you would be capable of stepping into that job and doing that job if you were ever called to do it? Because – and I ask you because Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman, former Pennsylvania governor, said recently that you were no – not in any way, shape or form ready to be commander-in-chief. I want to know if you think you could be.”
Warren’s full answer was a three-word response: “Yes, I do.”
There’s quite a bit to unpack here, but let’s focus on two key angles. The first is the significance of Warren’s endorsement itself. Obviously, with the primary process wrapping up, last night’s announcement wasn’t about moving progressive votes to Clinton, since she’s already effectively locked up the nomination. Rather, this was about Warren, who has unique and broad appeal throughout the party, playing a role in helping bring progressive voters together.
For Bernie Sanders’ ardent supporters, there is no real substitute for the Vermont senator himself, but if anyone in Democratic politics has credibility with Sanders die-hards, it’s the senior senator from Massachusetts. Few Americans, inside politics and out, can speak with the passion and authority on income inequality, the dangers of Wall Street excesses, and consumer protections – issues of key concern to Sanders and his allies – as Elizabeth Warren.
The second angle is the extent to which the senator may be interested in the vice presidency. Warren hasn’t explicitly said she wants the job, but it’s hard not to notice her recent efforts to go after Trump and get under his skin – efforts that have been successful – all of which led to Warren’s appearance on last night’s show. Her Clinton endorsement was striking enough, but Warren’s willingness to say she believes she’s ready for national office was the clearest indication yet that she’s ready to run on Clinton’s ticket should an invitation be extended.
And with that in mind, it was of great interest to see the Washington Post report that Warren and Clinton “will meet privately” this morning.