Sen. Elizabeth Warren Says She’s Exploring 2020 Run for President

December 31, 2018 Updated: January 1, 2019
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WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Dec. 31 that she’s exploring a run for president, after months of speculation that she might be a contender in the 2020 presidential race.

Warren posted a video on Twitter telling her followers, “I never thought I’d run for office, not in a million years,” about her successful run for Senate. She listed a number of issues that she’s passionate about, such as economic equality and rebuilding America’s middle class, before turning to the camera in what looks to be her kitchen and saying, “That’s why today, I’m launching an exploratory committee for president.”

Warren’s name was discussed during the 2016 presidential race, and even afterward, as someone who might take former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s place as a hard-left-leaning female candidate who has the star power to defeat a Republican challenger, but without the ties to Wall Street that Clinton had.

In fact, she was one of the architects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and a former special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she has been a constant agitator for reining in Wall Street with increased regulation.

She has had some high-profile spats with President Donald Trump, who used to call her “Pocahontas,” making fun of her claims that she had Cherokee and Delaware tribal blood.

She had her ethnicity changed from Caucasian to Native American/Alaskan native while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, and she listed herself in the Association of American Law Schools annual directory as a minority law professor.

Critics charge that she has shown a lack of integrity with regard to race and ethnicity, and used her claims of being a minority to boost her chances at plum university jobs. An exhaustive examination of the records of her hiring at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard debunk those attacks.

But her claims to Native American heritage turned out to be thin, with a DNA test she took showing she was between 1/64th and 1/1024th Native American, according to The Boston Globe, with which she shared the test results.

Cherokee Nation put out a statement saying that while a DNA test could prove ancestry, Warren couldn’t use it to claim tribal affiliation.

According to The Globe, the purpose of publicizing her DNA test was to prove that if she were to run for president in 2020, she would be a “very different candidate than Hillary Clinton was.”

Originally from Oklahoma, Warren was a public school teacher, and a professor of law at several smaller universities before moving to Harvard, where she was before she decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012. After winning re-election in November, her term is set to expire in 2024.

Despite her policies being more closely aligned with those of Senator and former presidential nominee Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), she decided not to endorse either Clinton or Sanders during the Democratic primaries. She did, however, endorse Clinton after the primaries.

When asked on CNN in 2016 if she thought she had what it took to be commander-in-chief, she said without hesitation, “Yes, I do.”

Despite that, she said as recently as this fall that she wasn’t planning to run for president, instead focusing on her re-election to the Senate, which she won by more than 20 percentage points.

That she was forming an exploratory committee wasn’t completely without warning. The day before, she changed her Twitter campaign username to “EWarren” from “ElizabethForMA,” removing the reference to her home state.

She has also rolled out a campaign website that is currently little more than a landing page, her video, and a form to collect email addresses and comments.

The Polls

In an average of several polls from 2014–2015, Warren ranked behind Clinton and tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, who also is considering a run in 2020.

More recently, in a Dec. 9–11 Fox News Poll, about 10 percent of the 1,000 respondents said she would be an excellent president, 15 percent said she would be a good president, and 18 percent said she would be only a fair choice for president. The highest percentage, 29 percent, said they thought she would be a poor choice for president. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

In a Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll from Selzer & Co., Biden was the top candidate, with 32 percent favoring him as the Democratic presidential nominee. But in a contest between “political newcomers” such as Warren and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Warren was the most popular with 80 percent of the vote. The poll had a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.

In another survey by David Binder Research, on behalf of Focus on Rural America and taken Dec. 10-11, Warren received 9 percent of the vote from self-identified Democrats. That is less than Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) 10 percent, O’Rourke’s 11 percent, Sanders’s 13 percent, and Biden’s 30 percent. In a previous survey by the same group in September that had five fewer candidates, Warren was at 16 percent. Those surveys had a margin of error of 4.4 points.

Others rumored to be considering a run in 2020 on the Democratic ticket are Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was a Democrat before he decided to run on the Republican ticket for all three of his mayoral races.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyGailK