In an interview with Fortune magazine, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts says yet again that she isn’t running for president and doesn’t plan to, but that’s unlikely to deter the efforts by some in the Democratic Party to draft her to run:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has now rejected a 2016 presidential campaign in both the present and future tenses.
The Massachusetts Democrat has for months gently patted away questions about her presidential ambitions with a present-tense “I am not running for president.”
But in an interview published Tuesday in Fortune magazine, Ms. Warren gave a categorical response to the future-tense question: “Are you going to run for president?”
No,” Ms. Warren responded to Sheila Bair, the former FDIC chairman who conducted the interview.
Ms. Warren’s apparently firm rejection of a future presidential campaign breaks from her previous hedged answers, in which she said she was not at that moment running but did not appear to rule out launching a campaign in the future.
Of course, prior disavowal of presidential ambitions didn’t prevent then-Sen. Barack Obama from joining the 2008 campaign he eventually won. Nor has it stopped Mitt Romney from discussing a 2016 run after firmly ruling it out many times since losing the 2012 race.
While polls show Ms. Warren far behind presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Iowa’s Democratic leaders are hungry for Ms. Warren to join the race.
Of course, this latest pronouncement from Warren, which joins countless others she has made in the past and precedes others she will no doubt make in the coming months, isn’t deterring the people trying to get her to run:
Her supporters appear undeterred. A joint statement from MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, e-mailed by DFA’s Neil Sroka on Tuesday, said: “Sen. Warren has been clear for years that she isn’t planning on running. If she were running, there wouldn’t be a need for a draft effort. We launched the Run Warren Run campaign to show Senator Elizabeth Warren the tremendous amount of grassroots enthusiasm and momentum that exists for her entering the 2016 presidential race and to encourage her to change her mind.”
And, of course, careful readers of the Fortune interview may well notice that the senator did not say “never, ever” or “in 2020,” or “no way, no how.” Stay tuned.
The truth, of course, is that Warren could say no a billion times and it still won’t end the speculation about 2016. Perhaps the only thing that will bring it to an end is if, not long after Hillary Clinton enters the race as most people expect her to some time in the coming months, Warren appears at a rally with her and endorses her for president. That will finally bring the speculation in the media, and all of the “Ready for Warren” nonsense to an end once and for all. Until then, the speculation is likely to continue for several reasons. A big reason for that, of course, is the simple fact that the political media loves a good story and the possibility of a populist challenge to the seemingly inevitable nomination of Hillary Clinton would make for a great political story. Since there’s no actual campaign to report on yet, and we’re more than a year away from the first actual votes of the 2016 race, it’s inevitable that the political media will focus on something like this.
The second reason that the speculation, and the movement, is not going to end any time soon is one that I noted last month:
Finally, there is the simple fact that there is a vocal wing of the Democratic Party that at least wants the 2016 race to be something other than a coronation, and for a so-called “progressive” voice to be part of that race. For many, the natural candidate for that role is Elizabeth Warren, and they are likely to keep pushing her to run notwithstanding her denials until the very end, or until another candidate such as Brian Schweitzer or Jim Webb comes along to take up the “progressive/populist” banner. None of these candidates is likely to have much of a chance of winning against Hillary Clinton, of course, but the hope is obviously that they will be able to force her to address issues that she otherwise might ignore during a primary campaign where she is not seriously challenged.
Given this, there really isn’t any reason for these groups to give up on their efforts to push Warren to enter the race, no matter what she might say in public and despite the fact that she is taking absolutely none of the steps that one who is seriously considering a run for the presidency might take at this point in the election cycle. As Greg Sargent notes at The Washington Post, the groups that are pushing the Warren fantasy are unlikely to give up on it because, as long as this is the case, it really doesn’t cost them anything to keep pushing the idea of a Warren candidacy and, as I’ve noted, this movement isn’t really about Elizabeth Warren so much as it is about trying to push the Democratic Party in general, and Hillary Clinton specifically, in a more “progressive” direction on issues like Wall Street regulation and income inequality. Warren is merely the surrogate for that agenda at this point, and, indeed, it would be quite easy for these groups to transfer their loyalty to someone else when it become finally apparent that the senator from Massachusetts is not getting into the race for the White House. Until that time, though, expect this silliness to continue.
Doug Mataconis appears on the Outside the Beltway blog at http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/.