July 14th, 2014
06:27 PM ET
5 years ago

Elizabeth Warren bashes Wall Street in West Virginia

Shepherdstown, West Virginia (CNN) – Elizabeth Warren doesn’t roll deep.

The Massachusetts senator and reigning champion of progressives everywhere arrived right on time Monday afternoon for a campaign event in West Virginia, this one for Democratic Senate hopeful Natalie Tennant, Warren’s latest stop in a national political tour boosting 2014 candidates. Her slight frame slid gingerly out of the passenger side of a blue SUV – her own car, with Bay State plates – and she greeted a volunteer with a golly-gee smile.

“Oh! Looks like it started to sprinkle out here!” Warren said, peeking up at the sky.

There was no entourage, no security detail. Just an aide left behind to park the car. Not knowing where to go, Warren wandered right into the side entrance of the Clarion Hotel in Shepherdstown and strode up to a police officer standing idly.

“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Well it’s nice to meet you!” the officer replied. Her aide arrived, conveniently in time to box out an advancing reporter, and escorted her down a hallway.

The low-key arrival was not, it turns out, an indicator of the reception she would receive inside.

In a ballroom packed with nearly 400 West Virginians, Warren was greeted like a bona fide celebrity, met with multiple standing ovations, a cascade of selfie attempts and a few shouts of “2016!”

What followed was a pugnacious and folksy speech packed with the kind of full-bodied populist rhetoric that has thrust her into 2016 presidential conversation alongside Hillary Clinton – whether she wants to be there or not.

“The way I see this, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, all those other guys on Wall Street, they’ve got plenty of folks in the United State Senate willing to work on their side,” she said, jabbing her hands into the air to make her points. “We need more people in the U.S. Senate willing to work on the side of America’s families.”

Tennant, she said, “is strong, she is independent, and she won’t let anybody roll over her.”

Warren talked about her working class upbringing in Oklahoma, telling the story of her mother taking on a minimum wage job at Sears, an effort to save their home after her ill father could no longer work. She humble-bragged about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the “little consumer agency” she helped launch – noting that it’s already recovered $4 billion from banks and credit card companies for American customers. And she bashed Republican opposition to her student loan bill, which would have lowered interest rates but was blocked in the Senate, saying the GOP’s first priority is defending big banks.

“The Republicans say no to raising the minimum wage, they say no to equal pay for equal work, they say we have to cut Social Security in order to make our budget balanced, they say no to those pension promises,” Warren said sternly. “They say it’s more important to stand up for Wall Street than it is to stand up for families across this county. Well I tell you what. They can say it, but they are going to lose.”

That the country’s most famous liberal showed up here, in a conservative-trending state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 despite its deep Democratic roots, was a bit unusual.

Tennant, trailing her Republican opponent Shelly Moore Capito by 10 points in the polls, has been distancing herself from President Obama throughout her campaign, pushing back most recently against new Environmental Protection Agency’s rules aimed at reducing coal emissions by 30% over the next 15 years. Tennant on Monday went so far as to call the regulations “disgusting.”

But Warren, too, has praised the EPA proposal – putting Tennant in the tricky spot of explaining why she would appear with Warren but not the President. Tennant gamely tried to defuse the situation in a session with reporters, many of whom made the short drive from Washington to the state’s eastern panhandle.

“We don’t agree on everything,” Tennant said. “We are here today to talk about education, about lifting the middle class, about saying no to Wall Street.” As for Obama? “If the President came to West Virginia, he would have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to these energy jobs and our coal jobs,” Tennant said.

She framed her speech the same way – embracing Warren’s middle class populism in full, but distancing herself from anything touching on Obama and coal.

Tennant was rolling out a new education plan and lavished praise on Warren’s student loan reform bill. More than once, she blasted “corporate greed” – and threw darts at House Republicans for proposing Medicare cuts and allowing unemployment benefits to expire last year. Those were none-too-subtle jabs aimed at Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who was five hours away in Charleston campaigning for Capito, an effort to steal some of Warren’s earned media thunder.

“Washington was all too happy to help out Wall Street but when our friends and neighbors in West Virginia needed a helping hand when they were looking for work, Washington had no help for them,” Tennant said.

That was just the warm-up act. Warren was the main event, attracting an adoring audience that included a number of high school and college students who said they appreciated her student loan push.

Without prompting, others said they hoped she would seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

“She speaks up for the underdog,” said Warren McKimmie, a self-described liberal from Harper’s Ferry. “She is the only one who speaks up for the underdog. I am very torn because I want a Democrat in the White House, but I’m not sure its Hillary. To me she would be more of the same. Warren is a fighter for us.”

On the way to her car after the rally, Warren was asked how it felt to be met by such friendly audiences on the campaign trail. Similar crowds have met her in Kentucky and Oregon and Ohio – and she’s a shoo-in for a standing ovation at the liberal Netroots Nation conference later this week in Detroit.

“People understand what’s going on,” Warren said. “They know what’s at stake in the races in 2014, and they are willing to get out there and fight. That’s what I see in those crowds. That’s what I love in those crowds.”

Before reporters could follow up with other questions, Jane Yearout – the head of the Berkeley County Democratic Party – ran up to her car screaming. Like Warren, she said was an Oklahoma native, and she wanted a hug. Warren gave her one, then departed.


Filed under: Elizabeth Warren • West Virginia
soundoff (922 Responses)
  1. db

    She is just the next socialist democrat hack.

    July 15, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  2. Willy P

    The fact that this woman is even in the Senate is a testimonial for the un-informed voter. This woman is a fraud,her whole life and story is a false narrative of her "fighting for the little people". She has never been one of the little people and has stepped on the backs of plenty whether by her fake Cherokee heritage claims, her house flipping after the mortgage meltdown or her $300K salary for teaching a single class at Harvard.It's no wonder she wants taxpayers to foot the bill for "higher education". The idea of this person running for President in 2016 would be laughable but for the fact of the current occupant of the Oval Office.

    July 15, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  3. Teresa

    Will Warren also confront the issue of Wallstreet backed tech giants pushing hard for "immigration reform" (the new slavery bill) in their attemp to replace hard working Americans, in already scant jobs, with non unioned illegal workers, for a quarter of the pay? I havent heard our party address this SERIOUS issue yet..Wall Street wants xheap labor, and is pushing HARD to get it, and to displace American workers in the technology sector, under the guise of immigration reform..and all of America knows it. Can Warren speak out on this? Using other countries suffering masses as capitalist pawns?

    July 15, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  4. 4Dees

    She is another liar of the hardcore socialist persuasion.

    July 15, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  5. chris

    Oh gee, a liberal bashing business...whats new.

    July 15, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  6. BE

    Carpetbagging populist fraud.

    July 15, 2014 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  7. Archy Cary

    Sure. And her running mate will be Snoop Dog.

    July 15, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  8. derekcrane

    If you like Obama, you will just love Warren. Warren also has the benefit of giving you a chance to support the first woman and Native American for president. Wah-hoo-wah!

    July 15, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  9. 85billion

    There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody. You got a Harvard Law tenure out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You lied about minority status to receive preferential treatment the rest of us paid for. You were hired as a worker by a college the rest of us paid for in mandatory taxes and crooked government student loan programs. You were safe in your nice office because of easy money paid for by destroying the res of our savings....

    Now look,
    you earned multi millions in suing lung cancer victims on behalf of an insurance company even though you have no law license,
    profiteered greatly off subprime mortgages of your own
    stuck us with a new federal agency which will only create more leveraging in US credit markets
    keep that Wall Street $50 billion a month gravy train running
    won a US Senate seat by riding on team Obama's political machine

    God bless—keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you cannot fool the laws of nature with hypocritical lies and taxpayer funded graft.

    July 15, 2014 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  10. Richard Spoth Jr.

    Barack Obama = Elizabeth Warren. The fall of a great nation.

    July 15, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  11. Snake Plissken

    So did she wear her street clothes, or come in full Native American regalia? I'm sure she also squared her six-figure teaching salary, gotten as Harvard's first Native American professor, with the more pedestrian incomes of those in attendance.

    July 15, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  12. auntaddie

    When Democrats fall in love with a pol the first thing pops into our collective head is, "the White House!", but our impulsiveness could leave our best leaders plucked in the bud, and their full potential never realized.
    Elizabeth Warren is better prepared to plead our case against big banks than anyone else I can think of. She understands not just the jargon, the disingenuous reason behind it. She has decades of experience on the subject, and is qualified to hold any public position in the field of finance.
    The idea of tossing her, like red meat, into the circus ring that is Presidential politics chills my blood. There are several other jobs she is better suited for, one of them being Senator from Massachusetts.

    July 15, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  13. Lazybum

    “Oh! Looks like it started to sprinkle out here!” Warren said, peeking up at the sky. " Perhaps she had inadvertently done a heap-big old family rain dance.

    Anyone that considers this lying, cheating poser a "Rock Star" would probably have said the same about Obama, and now look where we are. Do these liberal idiots never learn anything?

    How pathetic.

    July 15, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  14. Kflann

    Ms Warren practices what she preaches, which is more than I can say for Hillary, but since the left media loves Hillary so much, I doubt Ms. Warren will have much of a chance to run for president, even though she would make a better one than Clinton.

    July 15, 2014 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  15. pvtskulker

    Warren is a mouse who would cower in the corner when debating someone like Trump.

    July 15, 2014 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  16. skinnycat

    TO: Peter Hamby = why are you trying your darndest to cast this person in a bad light?

    July 15, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  17. KJ

    Her Indian heritage will be great for America

    Not

    July 15, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  18. TRUTH HURTS OBUMMER

    I have never seen such a puff piece...Too sugary than a kid's breakfast cereal...No mention or questions to warren about her lying about her phony indian heritage ? Warren lied when she checked of the minority box...She should be in jail not the senate

    July 15, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  19. shut up

    Good for her. Let's see if West Virginians wake up.

    July 15, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  20. Barry bin Inhalin

    Why are Democrats always so fake? She cries poor and lives in a $5,7mm home. She taught one class at Haaaavard and was paid $350,000 to do it. She claimed to be a long-lost Cherokee Indian, but as it turns out she is not. In fact, her REAL relatives served in the US Cavalry and personally marched native Americans to death on the Trail of Tears.

    Yes, she seems to be a perfect Democrat.

    July 15, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  21. Anonymous

    so what exactly does she stand for the family? that's lame!

    July 15, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  22. WhineO

    Liz will wipe the floor with the GOP with her Native American backing. She is .00001% Cherokee!

    July 15, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  23. bert

    she definitely looks like an indian to me!

    July 15, 2014 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  24. Rachel

    She should worry first about all the lies she's told over the years claiming to be an American Indian and how she used that lie to get into college before throwing stones.

    July 15, 2014 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  25. Buck Bagaw

    She only appeals to the brain-dead. Sadly, that's just over half of us.

    July 15, 2014 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
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