Government

Democrat Warren, in northwest Iowa, stirs interest in presidential bid

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, speaks Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at a campaign event at Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City. Justin Wan/Sioux City Journal
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, speaks Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at a campaign event at Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City. Justin Wan/Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY — Speaking to an enthusiastic Sioux City crowd Saturday in northwest Iowa, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren aired her fiery populist message.

The Democrat from Massachusetts pushed back on Wall Street advantages and advocated for making health care and education more affordable.

Warren said her modest upbringing in Oklahoma and through her career as an academic and later as a U.S. senator, she has pondered one key question: “Why are working people facing such a steep path?”

Warren said she plans to fight in the vein of people a century ago, as was done by union organizers, suffragettes and civil rights activists.

“They organized, they persisted and they made real change. It is time to fight hard, dream big and make real change,” Warren said.

Warren has moved quickly during the past six days toward a 2020 run to ultimately oppose Republican President Donald Trump.

On Monday, Warren announced she was forming an exploratory committee, the first major step toward a campaign. On Tuesday, she announced a swing of Iowa stops that stands at five, and by Friday she held the first of those in Council Bluffs.

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Warren, 69, has advocated for the founding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which took place in 2011. Some Democrats wanted her to run for president in 2016.

Heather Fiedler of Le Mars said she already supports Warren’s entrance into the presidential election cycle.

“I have always wanted her to run. I wanted her to run the last time. ... She understands what the average person deals with on a daily basis,” Fiedler said.

Warren said she long has supported reducing interest rates on college student loans, noting that a generation has incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt. She said she wants to change the laws on federal lobbying to “close the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.”

“Washington works well for people with lawyers and lobbyists. ... Washington works great for giant oil companies. It is not working for people who are wondering if their children will have a world to inherit,” Warren said.

Warren’s appearance at the downtown Orpheum Theatre drew about 500 people. The first question for Warren was from a woman who asked why Warren took a DNA test “to give Donald Trump more fodder to be a bully.”

Trump has mocked Warren as “Pocahontas,” referring to Warren saying that she’s part Native American. A 2017 DNA test results showed she is, going back several generations.

Warren responded by saying Republicans have aired “a lot of racial slurs,” so she took the test to scientifically dig into her ancestry.

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“I am not a person of color. I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry,” Warren said.

After the Sioux City event, Warren headed to Storm Lake for a roundtable to discuss issues of working families.

In a Journal interview preceding her event in Sioux City, Warren said it is important to campaign broadly statewide in a variety of communities. She said there is no time frame for her to decide whether to become a full-fledged candidate.

In a statement, Woodbury County Republican Party Chairwoman Suzan Stewart said Warren is missing key issues Iowans want addressed.

“She’ll have a difficult time connecting with Iowans. In fact, we welcome her to the Hawkeye state, where her message will fall flat and her unfavorability will probably even increase,” Stewart said.

Warren is the most prominent Democrat so far to make moves toward candidacy. The field also has included Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. U.S. Delaney has visited Iowa more than 20 times and has said he plans to return for five events in eastern and central Iowa in the next week.

Other Democrats who are considered first-tier contenders include Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

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