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. DuluthMN

    The message reads as "workers of the world unite" even if those words aren't used.

    July 15, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Trixie1223

    Good God. None of you democrats even acknowledge that this women lied about her ancestry to gain and advantage. This would be enough to get anyone fired, let alone run for president. She also made hundreds of thousands on house flips due to the misfortune of others. Whoever runs against her needs to really fight back with the Indian thing. I am so sick of the liberals ignoring this behavior.

    July 15, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. john steel

    This fawning drivel is what the Colored News Network is passing as journalism these days? No wonder CNN is becoming irrelevant. Here is a question for Liewatha – How many millions do you have invested through Wall Street firms?

    July 15, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Allie F

    Is this a joke????? Just another LYING, fraudulent liberal with NO experience. Dear God, save us from the DemocRATs and their destruction of this country.

    July 15, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Progressives have no solutions to anything.

    July 15, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. laxmom1

    Fauxcohauntus...just Obama in a skirt.

    July 15, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Steve9930

    Yep, lets put Elizabeth in the Whitehouse. Since we now have a clown and an incompetent might as well put in a another liar as president and a communist as the vice-president. This woman is an enemy of the democratic system.

    July 15, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Steve9930

    This woman would be the worst thing to happen to the United States.

    July 15, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Freedom311

    Remember the whole "you didn't build that" nonsense. Gee, does this ever sound familiar....

    "In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness."

    Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy

    July 15, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Rick Cappucci

    Warren is a fraud and a liar. She is a millionaire who made money scooping up real estate during the housing bust. She lied about being a Native American to get preferential treatment in college. Has been missing from Massachusetts completely ( for which we are thankful ). She was being paid $350,000 a year by Harvard to teach one class. How does that help anyone but her self. But she claims to want to lower college tuition? How about a more reasonable salary? She is a complete fraud and liar. Don't be duped.

    July 15, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. MarieEricksson

    It is not a good thing when people would rather keep jobs that kill them (coal industry) than move on to something else. The sheep voting for the GOP will never understand how they continue to be exploited while lining the pockets of the Wall Street elites. Elizabeth Warren’s message is right on the mark.

    July 15, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. junior36

    If you like hypocritical phonies who would cut your throat to get ahead, Ms. Warren is your woman.

    July 15, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. Steve

    Marie MD....Elizabeth Warren is a liberal. There isn't a liberal anywhere in this country that gives two hoots about the middle class.

    July 15, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Jason

    I can't wait for the apologists to tell us that we can't criticize Warren without appearing sexist and anti-native American. More "historic" hysteria...

    July 15, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. beagledawg

    Surprised she didn't claim to be an Indian from West Virginia.

    July 15, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Daisy

    Elizabeth Warren is not only a phony squaw, she's a phony 'politico of the people' who has not done an actual day's work in her phony life: Everything has been handed to her as political favors, a la Obama. This woman's net worth (end of 2011) was $14.5 million.

    July 15, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. stopobama

    We are on the verge of a one party state. If we elect this communist in 2016, it's all over for America. MY money and I will leave the country immediately.

    July 15, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Anonymous

    She made $350,00 for teaching one class at Harvard. She lives in a $5 Million dollar house. She used Affirmative Action -fraudulently – to advance her career. Just like Hillary, she can really relate to the Middle Class.

    July 15, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. Rit

    Sen Warren is the 21st century version of Senator McCarthy.

    Both thrive(d) on ginning up division and fear. Both push(ed) the bogeyman genre of politics. And both had/have fired up fanatical followers.

    We're in for the same very bumpy ride before Sen Warren is done that Sen McCarthy gave us in the 1950's

    "Are you now or have you ever been a banker or stockbroker?" "Remember, you're under oath!!!"

    July 15, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. Kelvin R

    The virulence of the anti-Warren wingnuts just shows how afraid they are of her. GO ELIZABETH!

    July 15, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Kilroy

    Fauxcohontos! This woman is a fraud as are those who support her. Then again the current occupant of the Oval Office is the biggest fraud in history anyway, so she probably may be the next president.

    July 15, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. OrlandoRican

    Elizabeth Warren and/or Hillary Clinton. These are the stars of the Democrat Party? Are Americans really that dumb?

    July 15, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Andylit

    What say the "mainstream" Dems? Warren or Clinton? And why.

    July 15, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Willy Brown

    She's nothing more than Obama in a skirt.

    July 15, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. DK

    If she's a 'Rockstar" then I'm Mick Jagger. Gimme a break, she's a left wing joke. She couldn't win national dog catcher. Just another lefty trying to pit classes of folks against each other. Nothing to see here.

    July 15, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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