The fight to be the Democrats' candidate in 2020 is heating up, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren officially launching her campaign, days after apologizing afresh for having previously claimed Native American heritage.
Despite sub-zero temperatures and a blustery wind, an estimated crowd of several thousand turned out to hear the MA senator pledge to fight corruption in Washington, level the economic playing field and reform the U.S. democratic process. She has spent the past decade in the national spotlight, first emerging as a consumer activist during the financial crisis.
President Donald Trump frequently derided Warren as "Pocahontas" beginning in 2016 when she would blast the then-Republican nominee, and she eventually released a DNA test showing she had a distant Native American ancestor to try to quell the controversy. "Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore?"
Still, Warren would compete against other popular Democrats who will be able to raise substantial money. The decision to run marks a significant departure for Warren, who less than two years ago told her constituents in MA that she doesn't want to become president. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is in Iowa, while New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is visiting SC.
Warren is one of four women so far seeking the Democratic nomination, an unprecedented number of female candidates vying to lead a country that has never had a woman chief executive.
In 2003, Senator John Kerry chose for his announcement not the reliably blue MA, but the red state of SC, and stressed his military service during a time of war by using a US Navy ship for a backdrop. Another possible presidential rival, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, planned to be in New Hampshire on Saturday. Warren, 69, has made worker rights, fair wages and access to health care central to her campaign.
The expected launch will test whether the controversy is simply a Washington obsession or a substantive threat to her candidacy.
Another threat could come from a fellow senator who has yet to announce his own plans for 2020: Sanders. And as a senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary, he would likely go into the Granite State as an early favourite if he chose to run again.
However, experts speculated that Warren's choice to make her announcement in a small, working class town might have been an intentional maneuver. And as a senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary, he would likely go into the Granite State as an early favorite if he made a decision to run again.
But even as Warren sharpens her policy positions and political message, the specter of additional, previously undisclosed examples of Warren labeling herself Native American on professional forms looms in the background. "Only under President Trump's leadership will America continue to grow safer, secure and more prosperous".