Senator Elizabeth Warren is expected to formally launch her presidential bid in Massachusetts on Saturday with a populist call to fight economic inequality – a message she hopes will distinguish her in a crowded Democratic field and help her move past the controversy over her prior claims to Native American heritage.
Warren will announce her 2020 plans at a mill site where largely immigrant factory workers went on strike nearly 100 years ago, providing the longtime consumer advocate a fitting forum to advance her political platform.
In a video announcing Saturday’s event, Warren touted Lawrence’s “history of working people coming together to make change, where the fight was hard, the battle was uphill, and where a group of women led the charge for all of us”.
The 69-year-old will then head to New Hampshire, home to the nation’s first primary, where Warren could have an advantage as a neighboring-state resident with high name recognition. She’ll spend Sunday in Iowa, where the nation’s leadoff caucuses will be the first test of the Democratic field’s mettle.
Warren was the first high-profile Democrat to signal interest in running for the White House, forming an exploratory committee on New Year’s Eve. Saturday’s event likely makes her candidacy official.
She’ll be introduced by Congressman Joe Kennedy III, a fellow Massachusetts Democrat who will also endorse her candidacy, according to a source familiar with his plans. The backing could prove valuable for Warren given his status as a rising young Democratic star and his friendship with her potential 2020 rival, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
The Democrats are in the beginning stages of selecting a contender to take on Donald Trump, who launched his 2020 campaign shortly after his inauguration. The first debates among the Democratic primary field, which is expected to be large, are scheduled for June, with the first voting to follow in January 2020.
Warren, a former law professor at Harvard University specializing in bankruptcy and commercial law, was a key architect of Barack Obama-era regulations to protect consumers from predatory lenders. After first winning election to the US senate in 2012, Warren became one of the body’s most outspoken critics of outlaw financial practices and white-collar impunity.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she said in a 2011 viral video explaining the importance of taxation. “You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”
For her 2020 campaign, Warren has proposed a 2% wealth tax on fortunes of $50m or greater and a 3% tax on fortunes $1bn or greater.
She notched a second viral moment in 2017 after Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell struggled to cut off a floor speech in which Warren was criticizing attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. McConnell’s complaint about Warren – “Nevertheless, she persisted” – has become a rallying cry for activists.
Some Democrats encouraged Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination in 2016, but she demurred. As Trump’s candidacy built steam, Warren emerged as one of his most eager and sharpest critics, calling him “a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who … serves no one but himself” and “a thin-skinned racist bully”.
Trump refers to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a slur referencing accusations that she falsely claimed Native American ancestry in a Harvard directory. An attempt by Warren to put the episode behind her by releasing a DNA test indicating a sliver of Native ancestry backfired after drawing criticism from Native American advocacy groups. Warren later apologized.
Warren, whose parents growing up in Oklahoma were a department store salesman and a homemaker, was a registered Republican for most of the 1990s. “I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets,” she said.
Warren has two children from a marriage prior to her 1980 union with husband Bruce Mann, a Harvard law professor. Their dog is called Bailey.