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. Bm

    Elizabeth Warren gets rich as a fake indian professor gouging students on tuition and now she gets morals?

    July 14, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. jon

    The Republicans seem to be only interested in driving down wages to meet the Chinese levels and screwing the middle-class. Thanks Republicans.

    July 14, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. Sergio Bungholio

    You think the economy and life in the US is bad under Obama...Fauxcahontas Warren would the the death of the US as we know it.

    July 14, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    The high cheekbones say it all.

    July 14, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. G24U

    This lady will give Hillary a run for her money.

    July 14, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  6. Mill Creek Bill

    I would like to see her primary Hillary.

    July 14, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. Robin Jones

    Look out Hillary! Here comes another one of those rookie senators who cause you so much trouble.

    July 14, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    It's a shame how these clapping seals exhibit fits of orgiastic hysteria for a slick demagogue promising easy solutions to the intractible problems that plague mankind while demonizing those who offer the tough, less palatable path. Instead of listening to the lies of Marxist con artists like Warren they should go to Detroit or Chicago and see how the "little people" are faring where Leftist policies have actaully been implemented for a few decades.

    July 14, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. reason1984

    Look out Hillary.

    July 14, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  10. magetalion

    Please Elizabeth, I really want to vote for you as our President.

    PLEASE SAVE US FROM HILARY.

    July 14, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  11. gardengnome132

    If Warren is the "rock star" of the democratic party, it just reinforces how lacking they are in real leadership – or even anyone with gravitas or charisma.

    It's going to be a landslide for republicans in 2014 & 2016.

    July 14, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  12. magetalion

    Please save us from Hilary in 2016.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.

    July 14, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. John C

    So now them Democrats want to run another proven liar, figuring that she will be elected by the women vote. Obama wasn't a proven liar until after he was elected, Warren is already know to be. It will be much harder for the media to pass her off as wonder woman, like they passed Obama off as superman or the secular Messiah. A lot of people are now onto the media as Democrat cheerleaders and propaganda tools. She might not even survive the primaries as corrupt as they are. The American people are now suffering Democrat burnout as they did Republican burnout with Bush, and with Bush things weren't nearly as bad as they are now.

    July 14, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. Clipper44

    Bash Wall Street one day, beg them for money the next.. the way of the democrat.

    July 14, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  15. Hankster1

    "She speaks up for the underdog." Not so. She bashed business owners with her ridiculous rant based on Obama's version of "You didn't build that". Another disingenuous and dangerous progressive liberal extremist.

    July 14, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. OldOllie

    She had better watch her mouth. Most of the big money donors on Wall St. are Democrats.

    July 14, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. dave

    She might be a good Presidential candidate, but you don't know how she would be on illegal immigration. There are 11+ million illegals in the US, many of them holding down good jobs that American legal workers should have. 11+ million jobs is alot of jobs, we need 15 million good jobs. If she is for jobs, and for the middle class, she should be in favor of enforcing immigration laws and labor laws. Her stance may only be a repeat of every other candidate, only interested in bringing in more workers, more illegal workers, to drive down wages/salaries even more, and causing more damage to the middle class, as well as retailers, and even legal Hispanic workers.

    July 14, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  18. vj

    We need either Warren or Rand Paul presidency in 2016.

    July 14, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. Joseph

    If the gop fails to elect Rand Paul, i'm hoping Warren gets the dem primary... I'm done with Clintons and bush people.. Totally done.

    If Warren gets the dem and Paul gets the rep, i'm gonna have one hell of a time voting lol

    July 14, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. Fool MeOnce

    Just what we all need: a fake Indian to blow smoke signals up our rears. No thanks.

    July 14, 2014 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  21. hillary

    Fake Indian. Google it.

    July 14, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  22. Laurence

    I love this woman!!..Working class upbringing and stands up for the little man...I read so much about her in conservative forums and they make her out to be a liberal Succubus who s sole purpose is to prevent entrepreneurs from making money,,,Ahhh the conservative echo chamber....Scares the shit out of me...

    July 14, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  23. Laurence

    I love this woman!!..Working class upbringing and stands up for the little man...I read so much about her in conservative forums and they make her out to be a liberal Succubus who s sole purpose is to prevent entrepreneurs from making money,,,Ahhh the conservative echo chamber....Scares the heck out of me...

    July 14, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  24. Facts

    Nothing on CNN about Elizabeth Warren falsely-assuming the mantel of an American Indian for thirty years and exploiting benefits intended for a persecuted minority?

    July 14, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  25. Gammar

    "NEW Elizabeth Warren bashes Wall St."

    There is nothing new about Elizabeth Warren bashing Wall St. But hey, she can't do it enough! You go, girl!

    July 14, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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