The PJ Tatler

How Long Can Elizabeth Warren Resist Calls for Her to Run in 2016?

Massachusetts liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to a private conference of Democratic big donors yesterday and, according to this report from Politico, brought down the house.

She should be getting used to it. Everywhere she goes, the Democratic Party’s far-left base is imploring her to run. She speaks their language, thinks like they do, is outraged about the same things as they are.

And she hates conservatives and capitalism as much as any liberal in America.

Warren drew multiple standing ovations during her talk, held in a banquet room at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental hotel during the annual winter meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a club of major liberal donors.

Throughout the day, donors repeatedly broached the question of whether Warren would run to Paul Egerman, a Democracy Alliance board member who was the national finance chairman of her Senate race and introduced Warren for her speech Thursday. He patiently but firmly told each that she would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

That didn’t stop a donor from asking Warren herself with the first question during a question-and-answer session following her speech, according to a Democracy Alliance source who was in the room. She also answered definitively in the negative, said the source.

Yet the continued interest in a Warren 2016 campaign from the ranks of the Democracy Alliance could, at the least, hint at trouble for Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner, when it comes to winning over liberal donors and activists.

The Democracy Alliance has had an outsized influence in Democratic politics. It works to leverage its donors’ massive bank accounts to steer the party to the left on causes dear to liberals — including fighting to reduce economic inequality and the role of money in politics. Warren has emerged as a standard-bearer for those fights, and her address on Thursday dealt with economic inequality.

Another attendee asked Warren after the speech why Senate Democrats didn’t aggressively push the liberal economic policies she champions.

“The fight is to frame the issues for the next few elections,” she said, according to the source in the room. “We have moved the Democrats over the last four years.”

Earlier Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid tapped Warren for a leadership position that will utilize her appeal by making her an official liaison to the liberal base. Reid is set to talk to donors Friday morning on the sidelines of the Mandarin Oriental conference at a session hosted by a group called iVote, which raises cash to try to elect Democratic secretaries of state. Reid’s office did not respond to a request for comment on his participation in the event.

So what’s a senator to do? Steadier constitutions than hers have been unable to resist the siren song to run for president. The big donors she addressed yesterday told her that she would have all the money she would need to be competitive.

Hillary’s star is descending. Democrats are openly casting about for an alternative following another midterm debacle where even in Arkansas, the Clinton “magic” didn’t work. Some party pros worry that Hillary won’t be able to turn out the base the same way that Obama did. Suddenly, Mrs. Clinton doesn’t look so inevitable anymore. Might there be an opening for someone to run to her left?

Elizabeth Warren is either genuinely uninterested in running in a primary against Hillary Clinton or is biding her time, allowing the excitement and expectations to build over the next few months until the call for her to get into the race becomes irresistible.

Her wait-and-see strategy is well chosen. At some point, the reality of a Hillary Clinton campaign is going to hit home and party activists, disgusted with her cozying up to Wall Street and her role in starting Obama’s wars, will be forced to confront their own doubts about her. At that point, Warren’s choice will crystallize and her decision will almost be made for her.

But she can’t wait forever. By late spring or early summer, she will have to be in or out. With the Iowa caucuses set for early February 2016, that wouldn’t give her much time to build a national organization that can compete with Clinton in all 50 states.