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. Name zeek the dog

    Bring it.......

    July 14, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  2. Nils Hruch

    Warren s typical lib. Can't win on issues so they have go for class warfare or race. There has to be a demon. Aren't we getting tired of this Wall Street is the villain diatribe? Facts are it takes everybody to make this country work. How many people are employed by the poor? What makes the rich work hard to make more money and create more jobs? It is the reward. No reward, no work. Some can find financial success and some can't. Those who do succeed are not evil. Those who are successful should not be targets to be ripped off by those less successful. We need leaders that see one country, not one split by class and race.

    July 14, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  3. disque-0-duc

    Ha-ha-ha. CNN, quit trying to select the candidates for us. This story was posted at 6:27 PM ET and I'm the first to comment. Looks like nobody is interested in Lie-awatha/Granny Cherokee Cheeks.

    July 14, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  4. are122

    Massachusetts eh. Her solution to the current border crisis would probably be to drop them all off at Boston Children's Hospital.

    July 14, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. bulldog

    Warren is beyond being a Marxist. The woman is power crazed beyond belief. She desperately needs a psychiatrist- maybe two. That might even fall short. She is an avowed supporter of Obama's agenda and even takes it farther.

    July 14, 2014 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  6. v1cious

    Man I wish she was running instead of Hillary.

    July 14, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  7. edwardo

    Ever read her bio? she is an itinerant , serial lying, job hopper who specializes in working for schools and getting tenure, she is a political hack and over time has become crazed and confused politically. She could not run this country, and after Obama, someone like her would be political suicide.

    July 14, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  8. Brian

    She's a polititian people!! By definition she's for Wall Street. Wasn't Obama going to clean up Wall Street too!?!

    July 14, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. Jeremy

    Hooray for Elizabeth!!!!!! Thank you and consider running with Hillary in 216.

    July 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. William P

    A wolf in sheep's clothing. She's not held one person from Wall Street accountable. Why is that Senator Warren. All bluster. And she never takes questions. ... Ever.

    July 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  11. ImJustAGuy

    I see Democrats don't care that Elizabeth Warren is a fraud. She pretended to be a Native American so she could get preferential treatment while going through school and in seeking employment at Harvard.

    It's clear that Democrats don't care if their politicians are dishonest.

    July 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. Peter Rock

    I'm sick and tired of hearing politicians talk about working for American Families when all they are really concerned about is getting enough money to buy their re-election, which mostly comes from where ?- big business and corporations. You've been ineffective Elizabeth because you can't work together with the other side to get any compromise legislation passed. Every one in Washington should be fired and sent packing- both sides of the aisle, you're all a bunch of hippocrites. We need new leadership- young people with fresh ideas who are willing to work for everyone not just the members of their party. It doesn't have to be "my way or the highway"- it can be lets give a little bit and do something good for the people together. Boehner and Reid- get lost and get out of the way so someone new can lead.

    July 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. Bon Hagar

    We're already down the disastrous elect a First-Term liberal senator road. Not again.

    July 14, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. Bob USAF(ret)

    A uber liberal in the Image of Obama. No governing or leadership ability/experience. The last thing our country needs is a female version of the anti USA Obama..

    July 14, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. Skitz00

    It is beyond idiotic to describe any politician as a "rock star". No politician ever has, or ever will fit that description.
    Please stop being stupid in using the term. Call them 'political stars' if you must, or, in the case of a very few, 'political superstars'. That's it.

    July 14, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. DEC

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the responsible party at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) who approved the decision to renovate the office for $215 MILLION tax dollars, when the original budget was $55 million. All documents regarding her decisions have vanished. Where have we heard that before?

    According to the OIG, the remodel of the CFPB’s 515,000 square feet headquarters into class “A” grade office space has cost $215.8 million, or $421.48 per square foot. This appears more than “double the $150 per square foot average cost for renovating Washington's high-end commercial Class 'A' office buildings with high-end restrooms, lobbies, elevators, hallways and office suites," according to the Washington Examiner.

    Ms. Warren retained the “prestigious Chicago-based architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, for $7.2 million” for the remodel. The firm creates extravagant designs such as Dubai’s luxury Cayan Towers and Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth.

    Now, tell me again about Sen. Warren bashing Wall Street.

    July 14, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. Wallaceboy

    Who can still be on the same side as Obama today? Political death.......

    July 14, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  18. PTTP

    Elizabeth Warren is a phony. She is the champion of the little people who flipped foreclosures for profit and falsely claimed to be American Indian to improve her chances of being hired by Harvard to the tune of $300k per year for a few classes. She won her seat because the democrats here in MA were not going to let a Republican win at any cost. She couldn't even speak for herself when she won – God help us all if she becomes President, She wants social justice for the masses – only she and the political elite or politically connected will have money and power. The rest of us will be worker drones.

    July 14, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  19. Skarphace

    I would like to see another Democrat challenge Hillary for the nomination and Warren would make a good choice for that. I would like to see the Warren vs Hillary debates.

    July 14, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  20. Wise Native Warren

    Pale faces react this way typically when they are around wise Native American dispensers of wisdom. Especially when those wise chiefs can have reputations for being anti Wall Street after taking millions of dollars from the same Wall Street people.

    July 14, 2014 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  21. John Heinzelman

    Did she speak of her Native American Heritage? Oh, I'm sorry, she has none. That was just a lie like the rest of her life!

    July 14, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  22. Ranch

    fight the power Liz!

    July 14, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  23. Ryan

    Great. Let this dolt and Hillary gnash their teeth at each other for the 16 nomination. That would be a hoot.

    July 14, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. RT Colorado

    What an interesting article, a refreshing writing style. I throughly enjoyed it and I come away not having the foggiest idea how to feel about it other than a good bit of writing. I wouldn't walk across the street to pour a bucket of water on Senator Warren if she was on fire, but this article somehow made my day.

    July 14, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  25. WillOfThePeople

    This very rich lady is amusing, and not just because she thinks she is a Native American.

    July 14, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
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