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. will

    Yes, the millionaire corporate lawyer from Cambridge MA. PORTRAYS herself as the little guy. Even whilst she spends time writing her book from her $2m+ estate she calls home. But, you have to ask yourself if the her idea of extending loans to college students is really a way of taking attention away from outrageous tuitions and protecting the "little people", like herself" who pull down $500k a year to teach 5 hrs a week at Harvard. Those little people who support her, where they at the Harbor View in posh Edgartown this weekend with her? No, but I am sure she took on the contingent of WS elites that occupied the $700 a night rooms around her. I wonder if the little people with EW stickers all over there Prius have any sense of irony when EW's driver pulls up in her big blue SUV, do as I say not as I do. Your emperor has no clothes.

    July 15, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  2. Joe Bloe

    Watching this clip of both Warren and the panel it has to make you smile. You have a radical leftist in Warren speaking gibberish and then you have 2 leftist media types talking about how good she was. Warren would be unelectable anywhere but the bluest of the blue states out there. Heck she barely beat Scott Brown in a state that is so blue that every federal office is held by a far left wing democrat. So Jonathan Martin who is far left himself – talk about effete – gushing about Elizabeth Warren shows how much the inside the beltway leftist media shapes the narrative. Disgusting.

    July 15, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. Bob

    President Obama has been in bed with billionares and Wall Street all along. Wall Street gives millions to Democrats including President Obama. Remember Not One Person was every charged with a crime during and after the great collaps of the economy. Mrs Warren is just another politicain pretending to have the middle class interests at heart.

    July 15, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  4. Anonymous

    She is a fraud! Pretending to have be an American Indian.
    There is no genealogy proof that Warren has ANY Native American ancestry.

    July 15, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  5. Cory111

    Hillary/Warren 2016

    July 15, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  6. joeskim

    Just another liar who relies upon the poor memories of low information voters. By the way, whatever happened to her fraudulent lies regarding her Native American heritage?

    July 15, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. Godot

    The "one true thing" about Granny is she is far from adverse to using YOUR hard earned money to take care of the spendthrifts. My wife and I put our child all the way through a master's degree without any debt. Those beauties riding around in leased SUVs with "expensive college" decals on the back window who pat themselves on the back while saddling the kid with a hundred grand or more in student loans for the privilege are the ones urging Granny on.

    July 15, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  8. Anonymous

    One of the richest people in politics....lol yea Miss Populist for sure....Go back to your native state and spew your garbage.I dare you

    July 15, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. critical thinking

    Elizabeth, please or please run for President. That will be the best insurance to have a Republican President.

    July 15, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. Bob Hampton

    For those who thought it would be "awesome" if Obama were elected, bringing with him "hope and change", you hopefully learned your lesson. Warren is just another flaming liberal who criticizes the very systems that made America great, while living her life among those she criticizes. Massachusetts residents are known to be gullible, but here's hoping the rest of the country has learned its lesson.

    July 15, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  11. Randy

    Typical politician...speeches with no substance rather mostly exaggerations.

    July 15, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. constitution1st

    The fake Indian? The grandmother of OCCUPY? The Insurance Lawyer?
    The Neo-Communist Party sure knows how to pick the Schmucks.

    July 15, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. Susan Daniels

    Too funny! Hillary must be tearing her hair out.

    July 15, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. Joe M.

    I'm confused. Does Tennant think she's running for Senate in California or New York? Does she know she has blue-collar coal miners as her voting population?

    July 15, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  15. Ben

    When will she apologize for lying about being a Native American Indian to get a job. Those of us who are, are still highly offended, and it makes me throw up just to look at her.
    To even consider her as a Senator is a joke, much less president.

    July 15, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. backwardsboy

    Yawn, another big-government socialist who wants to further erode our rights. Wake me up when the Dems start talking about deregulation, reducing taxes, getting the economy started and dismantling their vast illegal spying agencies.

    July 15, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Anonymous

    repubs need to watch out with this woman. She is a classic progressive Liberal. She even looks like one. The last thing we need on the heels of the train wreck we have as POTUS now, is another transformative liberal progressive destroying our free market system

    July 15, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Bill

    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.

    I thought the government took over the student loan business! So I guess she is anti government after all....LOL

    July 15, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. DeWayne

    Whitest Indian on the reservation.

    July 15, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  20. Anonymous

    It's about time we have a Native American president!

    July 15, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  21. CKinTX

    You mean the indian from the Faux tribe?

    July 15, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. no

    bahahahah. this is who they have bahahahahaha

    July 15, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  23. fred

    Warren is agaisnt the people and for big police state government.

    July 15, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. morphy699

    warren is just a white female version of Obama. no real experience running anything. just another LIB-media made lying leftwing liberal.
    and she will take all the money she can from wall st just like Obama did.

    July 15, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Hey Elizabeth, take a tour of an underground coal mine, talk to miners and their families how Obama and ms. Tennant are making the world a better place to live in. Oh wait.

    July 15, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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