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.
Follow @politicaltickerFollow @PeterHambyCNN
“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.
If she's elected can we pay her in beads and shells? If she's elected that will be about all we can afford.
What a shame hard working elected officials do not get the limelight. But a lying millionaire who only talks about fighting and not uniting or compromising is given free press through a manufactured puff piece. No fresh ideas about anything of value... just fightin' words that whip up a crowd and can't be argued. I weep for our nation's future.
There are many senators trying to work for the middle class-but there is one BIG DEM named Harry Reid putting the halt on any legislation geared at helping WE THE PEOPLE. Senator Warren is no salvo
Easily one of the scariest politicians I have ever heard. I would rather have another 8-years of Obama than any chance of this level of left-wing lunacy in the White House.
Her biggest qualification: She's a liar.
Ms War on Women herself! God help us all!
It's amazing how progressives bash Wall Street, the banks and the rich, while talking about "leveling the playing field" and helping the poor, but for some reason, almost everything they do, drags the poor down in to a dependent poorer existence and enriches Wall Street and the banks. Sure, they increase regulations, but for some reason, their regulations seem to allow loopholes, for bug business, while strangling small business. People need to wake up and see these snakes, for who they really are.
Hunts at Whole Foods
Just another person who believes government has all the answers, provided taxpayers can afford them. Perhaps I should say, even if taxpayers can't afford them.
Hiawatha wants to run! Does this mean we'll have a genuine Redskin in the race?
Someone needs to shut the Communist Wench from the North up.
How, an Indian woman can climb the democratic political ladders in Massachusetts and blatant out lie about her heritage amazingly easy. Dems never tell the truth . That's Massachusetts law.
Look at Ted Kennedy.
Fake Minority. Her character is exposed.
If this goofy, lying, hypocritical woman is the "rock star" of the Democrat party, I can only pray that this nation wakes up to foolish and dangerous courses it has taken over the last few years. Wake up, America! Socialism is not where we need to go in any way, shape, or form. The Democrat party has gone so far left as to be flirting with Communism.
She's just another bottom-feeding neo-liberal/ leftist fascist. Nothing new here. More of the same . From the same.
I wonder if Senator Warren has any stock investments. If so, isn't she part of the problem? I'm presuming she'd be investing in order to make money on the investments, soooo...
Puffington Host is doing their best to paint a pretty picture of an angry, loud, abrasive non-leader whose only schtick is to divide and conquer. She offers nothing of value for America. Another Obama. Empty.
that woman is a menace and needs to be gone!!! Massachussets???
Umm, news flash Elizabeth. It's President Obama who says "no" to equal pay for equal work. Women in his administration make less than men, and get smaller raises.
one "rock star" president is more than enough. this country can't afford another.tingle up chris mathews leg.
Warren has gotten a lot of grief for over-stating her "Indian Credentials". I guess she was told she had native American blood when she was a kid – and you know what? 90% of "white" people I have gotten to know say the same thing about being part native american. Then you have Bush/Cheney lied to get us into a war that just so happened to make Cheney a very rich man. Nixon lied when he said he wasn't a crook. Romney lied about things every day he was a candidate for president (and exported 1000s of jobs in the process). McCain was King of Flip-Flops. Republicans are out of their minds with their own hopeless brand of hypocrisy. And don't get me started about their racist Obama Derangement Syndrome. Republicans are only fit to serve in a make-believe world that will never exist. Where the People are White. Gas is Free. The BBQ is always going. And all the women look like Sarah Palin
What a clown....
Dude – I'm scared and shaking all over.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, we have heard this before about helping the middle class. If her policy is anything like Obama's then the middle class is doomed. Is this the best the Dems have...Warren or Clinton?
Dumb as dirt and that is the best they have.