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. Tonyg101

    Wasn't Obama given the 'Rock Star" treatment on his first run for President. Look how well that turned out?

    July 15, 2014 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  2. Dennis in WV

    Nothing but a left-leaning article on a left-leaning sitting Senator who is bad for America and absolutely, incredibly horrible for the State of West Virginia.

    Not only does she despise coal, Warren supports abortion rights, gun control, and gay marriage, but she opposes casinos. How's that work with West Virginians? Warren is a mirror reflection of Obama and Tennant otherwise Warren wouldn't be here, drumming up votes for Tennant.

    Tennant didn't bring in President Obama because the president had his worst showing in the WV 2012 Democratic primary than in any other state. An incarcerated felon got 40% of the Democratic vote. She figures we don't know anything about Elizabeth Warren. But Warren loves Obama. And, Tennant also loves Obama.

    Warren and Obama have much in common. Warren favors the EPA bill that thunders down on WV coal. And Warren was the first to exclaim "you didn't build that" that the president later used during his own campaign. As of late, major news media has been reporting that Warren is Obama's first choice for president in 2016.

    Want more on Senator Warren? She supports AMNESTY for illegal aliens known as the Dream Act, and she also supports Obamacare. Warren claims she hates Wall Street, but she is worth $14 million! Warren was a supporter of the "Occupy Movement" in NY that created chaos.

    A vote for Tennant is the exact same thing as a vote for Obama and Warren – all 3 are bad for West Virginia.

    July 15, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  3. Rick

    She is the author of," You didn't build that". If you want more of the same, Obama's hand picked Marxist successor, vote for Warren.

    July 15, 2014 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  4. Dave

    Lizzy Pocahontas Warren?! Oh yeah, you GO guys!

    July 15, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  5. TXMAN

    She is the perfect Democrat, she has never done anything.

    July 15, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  6. Terry

    Liberals sure are good at twisting the truth and hypocrisy. The GOP is not "for Wall Street," they are for the free market. That is quite a difference to say let the free market work vs. being for Wall Street. Maybe my counter would be that the so called "progressives" are for keeping people on welfare. Its just as accurate as Warren's statement.

    July 15, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  7. Kathleen Gallaway

    She is the best

    July 15, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  8. GAHusker

    Attention to all critical thinking individuals, even those that listen to CNN for any of their information, this person is a DEMOCRAT. Remember, the party which is fundamentally transforming our country into a third-world country. For you CNN watchers that means they are making it possible for you to have to stand for days in lines in the future when you will be totally dependent upon government for the basics in life like bread and milk. After you finally determine that Democrats just promise things but always under-deliver, please take your votes more seriously and make sure you vote for the candidates who empower you as an individual to take care of yourself!!!!

    July 15, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  9. Frank

    As a independent voter I may be willing to give her a listen

    July 15, 2014 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  10. ACDenco

    I guess no one in the room asked her about where she stands on the "dirty energy producing" coal industry............

    July 15, 2014 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  11. Cindi O'Connell

    Warren is keeping up the leftist tradition of blaming 'Wall Street' for real and imagined ills. We already have a president that is doing that, while at the same time taking cash from wealthy leftists who have made their money on 'Wall Street.' Warren is just another demogogue who wants to continue the Obama tradition on dividing the country into have vs. have-nots. Blaming 'the rich' seems to work for Democrats, even though it doesn't for the country.

    July 15, 2014 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  12. woodie

    The GOP makes this so easy. They are on the negative side of every issue involving the middle class.

    July 15, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  13. gdnctr

    Another empty-headed marxist/socialist/lib-dem moron.

    July 15, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  14. liberal disease

    but its ok for massachusetts to tax the heck out of its citizens..politicians calling others crooks is like Obama calling Pinocchio a liar

    July 15, 2014 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  15. Jake

    With competition like Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, Obama, Biden, Clinton, etc. Pee Wee Herman would be a rock star in that party.

    July 15, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  16. Lorne

    fauxahontas is as phony as her claims of a Native American heritage; I can't wait for her emergence on the national stage. We will certainly have fun with her in California!

    July 15, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  17. Ronbo

    Do it Lizzy. Another ultra liberal from Massachusetts. That's just what America needs right? How does she explain tarp and QE4 eva, and the bailouts, anfd the thieving that her party instituted. When Chuckie Shumer told Bernanke to "get to work", he did what he was told. The Progressives own this outhouse from top to bottom and no way they can hide from the truth. ALL politicians do the banker bidding, this fake Indian included.

    July 15, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  18. jboh

    Wall St bankers have been looting America since Reagan. A strong dose of regulatory control is long overdue. Today, banks borrow from the Fed Reserve at 3/4%, and buy T-Bonds from USA that pay 3%. What have they got to complain about?

    July 15, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Lieawatha. ? I guess Warren is the only one they can find who is more dishonest than Hillary

    July 15, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  20. cathy

    wall street and the banks and The Fed cannot do what they do without congress' permission. she needs to look in the mirror.

    July 15, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  21. Steve

    Liawatha speak with forked tongue.

    July 15, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  22. Brenda Mor

    I live in Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren is a hypocrital hack. This coming from a person who is a multi-millionaire. Who taught 1 class at Harvard for the grand sum of $350,000. She makes me want to vomit. She deferred a qustion on national security to our Governor. She hasn't a clue what she's doing.

    July 15, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  23. Edward Boothe

    Just what we need, another Communist in the White House

    RICK PERRY FOR PRESIDENT

    July 15, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  24. Gordie Chaska

    Maybe she should go after O and Holder. What did they do to the CEO's that caused this?

    July 15, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  25. Libertarian Man

    I wonder when liberals will finally wake up and realize that the welfare state is the reason socialism has failed in the past, let alone in a capitalist economy.

    July 15, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
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