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. Guest

    Anyone who thinks this woman is any different than any of the other snakes in the Senate is tragically deluded.

    July 14, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  2. guitar

    Thank you Elizabeth Warren, a light in the midst of the land of the corrupt. Everyone else is on the take from the Wall St. Oligarchy.

    July 14, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  3. jb

    Reminds me of Geraldine Ferraro. I hope she fares just as well.

    July 14, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  4. Jim

    I love Sen. Warren. She introduces common sense legislation that is good for the American people and is clearly not in the pocket of Big Business, like so many of her colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the aisle. It is unfortunate that she can't get any room on the soap box because people (like the author of this article) feel it necessary to characterize her as "folksie" because she doesn't have the level of pretension that we have come to expect from our politicians.

    July 14, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Obama supports this Globalist mouthpiece, what does that tell you. MORE OF THE SAME!! Stop voting for these enemy's of the country because they pretend to hate the same people you hate, when in fact she supports them.

    July 14, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. chitface

    O'Malley must be running scared now!

    July 14, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  7. Bob

    Elizabeth Warren, more liberal east coast scum, leading to collapse and disaster.

    July 14, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  8. thaddeus Kozubal

    I don't know Elizabeth Warren's age, but it would seem to me that a little more experience in the Congress wouldn't hurt before trying to run the whole country. I like her and would vote for her in 2020.

    July 14, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  9. CentristSentiment

    Warren is a loose cannon leftie. Far too extreme to be "a champion for progressives". Bad example of how extreme both sides of the spectrum are getting, the Tea Party and the die hard liberals are equivalent in the damage they do to our country.

    July 14, 2014 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  10. scottoest

    Stop using stupid descriptions like "bashes" for warranted criticism, in your endless quest for clickbait.

    July 14, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  11. mutantsubhuman

    Why not bash the media? Why not bash political parties? Why not bash hashish use in Outer Mongolia? Who cares? What is she planning on doing to fix this country?

    July 14, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  12. Torcher

    Senator Warren would you care to comment on Jon Corzine, the Democrat who stole 2 billion from investors and was never prosecuted? Thought not.

    July 14, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. This Vote Counts

    YES! I'd certainly vote for Elizabeth.

    July 14, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. ermentrude

    I have read this type of journalism before. "Her slight frame slid gingerly..." and "glistening pectoral muscles". Put a lid on it already. It's not journalism.

    July 14, 2014 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  15. Bryan

    Isn't the Senator supposed to be half Native American, or was that a falsehood like every other word from her mouth?

    July 14, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. Confused

    Does this reporter work for the senator

    July 14, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  17. Teapartyguardian

    Wait, What? Killary "what difference does it make" is out and fauxcahuntus "you didn't build that" is in??? America is experiencing liberal progressive policies daily thanks to the owebama regime and IS SICK OF IT. Ms. Warren, do the country a favor and take killary on a three year hiatus!

    July 14, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  18. TruthTeller

    I hope they do run that crazy, pathological liar in '16. She can spend the entire campaign explaining how she came to be Native American, even though none of the rest of her family are. Good luck running one a platform of global warming,gun control, and Kermit Gosnell-style late term abortion.

    July 14, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  19. Sue

    Elizabeth Warren is the true anti-war progressive candidate. No pants suits, either!

    July 14, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  20. RT

    What a gushing bunch of tripe. Maybe the author should have led with "senator that lied about her ancestry to gain public office" or " hypocrite that refuses to descry the Obama administrations hypocrisy as it relates to equal pay for men and women for the same jobs"

    July 15, 2014 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  21. Mick Smith

    The Clintons will unleash a media hate campaign if she seriously looks like a contender.

    July 15, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  22. Anonymous

    She is the ideal Democrat candidate; she lied about her ethnic background in school and later practiced law without a license in the State of Massachusetts (she was only admitted to the bar in NY). However, the ends justifies the means, so rules don't apply.

    July 15, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  23. John Poland

    Oh the FAKE Native American Princess won an election when found to be telling a Lie all these years about her Heritage to get Special Treatment. So she Proved she could LIE Just as well as the President ..THAT is what makes Democrat Stars these days..Proving you call Lie with the BEST of THEM !!!!

    July 15, 2014 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  24. Susan

    I'd like to hear a bit more than just, "Wall Street is bad", and "i'm for the underdog". For example, Elizabeth, Wall Street is not benefitting from the high interest rates on student loans, the American Government is! All of Wall Street is not made of crooks and thieves, Liz, stop watching the "Wall Street" movies. And tell our Government to STOP printing more money. This isn't a monopoly game!

    July 15, 2014 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  25. Free Willy

    Her little Financial Protection Bureau collected $4 billion for consumers????
    I haven't received my check....did anyone else?

    July 15, 2014 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
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