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Elizabeth Warren Takes Major Step Towards 2020 U.S. Presidential Run

Warren's campaign is likely to revolve around the same theme she's woven into speeches and policy proposals in recent years

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, gives her victory speech at a Democratic election watch party in Boston, Massachusetts, Nov. 6, 2018. VOA

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday took the first major step toward launching a widely anticipated campaign for the presidency, hoping her reputation as a populist fighter can help her navigate a Democratic field that could include nearly two dozen candidates.

“No matter what our differences, most of us want the same thing,” the 69-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said in a video that highlights her family’s history in Oklahoma. “To be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules and take care of the people we love. That’s what I’m fighting for and that’s why today I’m launching an exploratory committee for president.”

Warren burst onto the national scene a decade ago during the financial crisis with calls for greater consumer protections. She quickly became one of the party’s more prominent liberals even as she sometimes fought with Obama administration officials over their response to the market turmoil.

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United States Senator Elizabeth Warren, speaking at Powells Books, Portland, Oregon. Flickr

Now, as a likely presidential contender, she is making an appeal to the party’s base. Her video notes the economic challenges facing people of color along with images of a women’s march and Warren’s participation at an LGBT event.

In an email to supporters, Warren said she’d more formally announce a campaign plan early in 2019.

Warren is the most prominent Democrat yet to make a move toward a presidential bid and has long been a favorite target of President Donald Trump.

In mid-December, former Obama housing chief Julian Castro also announced a presidential exploratory committee, which legally allows potential candidates to begin raising money. Outgoing Maryland Rep. John Delaney is the only Democrat so far to have formally announced a presidential campaign.

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Matt Bamonte and US Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren at St. Anthony’s Feast. Flickr

But that’s likely to change quickly in the new year as other leading Democrats take steps toward White House runs.

Warren enters a Democratic field that’s shaping up as the most crowded in decades, with many of her Senate colleagues openly weighing their own campaigns, as well as governors, mayors and other prominent citizens. One of her most significant competitors could be Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who is eyeing another presidential run harnessing the same populist rhetoric.

She must also move past a widely panned October release of a DNA test meant to bolster her claim to Native American heritage. The move was intended to rebut Trump’s taunts of Warren as “Pocahontas.” Instead, her use of a genetic test to prove ethnicity spurred controversy that seemed to blunt any argument she sought to make. There was no direct mention of it in the video released Monday.

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Sen. Warren with Jim Brett, New England Council. Flickr

Warren has the benefit of higher name recognition than many others in the Democratic mix for 2020, thanks to her years as a prominent critic of Wall Street who originally conceived of what became the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She now faces an arduous battle to raise money and capture Democratic primary voters’ attention before Iowa casts its first vote in more than a year. She has an advantage in the $12.5 million left over from her 2018 re-election campaign that she could use for a presidential run.

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Warren’s campaign is likely to revolve around the same theme she’s woven into speeches and policy proposals in recent years: battling special interests, paying mind to the nexus between racial and economic inequities.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” Warren said in the 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.” (VOA)

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Sanders Kicks Fight Against Trump into High Gear as Democrats Swarm San Francisco

The San Francisco convention became a window into the forces at work in the Democratic Party

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco, June 2, 2019. VOA

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday called on California Democrats to unite against Donald Trump, kicking the 2020 presidential campaign into high gear with jabs against the Republican president and a veiled swipe at Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Sanders called Trump “a racist, a sexist, a homophobe and a religious bigot” in a speech capping off a state Democratic convention that drew fourteen of the 24 candidates to make their case before 5,000 delegates, guests and press in the most populous – and most heavily Democratic – U.S. state.

“Together we are going to defeat a president who has the most corrupt administration in history,” Sanders said, “and a president who knows nothing about real American values.”

The San Francisco convention became a window into the forces at work in the Democratic Party as it seeks to recover from Trump’s populist-fueled victory in 2016.

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Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, cheer during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco, June 2, 2019. VOA

The party’s left-leaning delegates greeted Sanders and liberal U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren like rock stars.

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper drew boos when he said socialist policies would not propel the party to victory, and other moderates were booed for rejecting the idea of a universal public health care system, or Medicare for All.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who leads Sanders in polls for the Democratic nomination in California and nationwide, did not attend the convention, drawing barely veiled criticism from Sanders.

Sanders noted that the fourteen candidates who addressed the convention, as well as some who had “chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room,” offer a variety of ways to approach a campaign against Trump. But Sanders rejected the centrist approach favored by Biden and some other candidates.

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On issues like health care, pharmaceutical prices and climate change wracking the country, “there is no middle ground,” Sanders said.

Addressing concerns among some Democrats that a moderate would be more electable than a fiery progressive, Sanders said such an approach would not generate the enthusiasm needed to defeat Trump.

“We will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign and unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives,” Sanders said.

California, which will send nearly 500 delegates to the party’s nominating convention next year, took on new heft for the 2020 campaign after moving its nominating election to March from June. Democrats hold all statewide elective offices in the state, and dominate both houses of the legislature.

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday called on California Democrats to unite against Donald Trump. Pixabay

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, a native daughter who has been eclipsed in early polling in California by Biden and Sanders, made clear she was not taking her home state for granted.

On Saturday, supporters with signs bearing her name and shouting “Kamala! Kamala!” formed a gauntlet that Sanders was forced to walk through on his way into a labor union breakfast.

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“I am here to earn everyone’s support, and I’m going to fight to earn it,” Harris said at a breakfast held by the party’s women’s caucus. (VOA)