The FBI is investigating President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee over sexual assault allegations, Trump is publicly mocking one of that nominee’s accusers, and, oh yeah, there’s just over four weeks until the Nov. 6 midterms. Welcome to America in 2018.
At a town hall over the weekend in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren laid down her 2020 marker.
“It’s time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top,” she said. “So here’s what I promise: After November 6, I will take a hard look at running for president.”
Which is, well, interesting — to say the least. Why now — just five weeks removed from the 2018 midterms? What was Warren trying to do?
Here’s why we think she did it:
I think Warren — and her people — understands she is in the pole position right now. (Harry Enten and I have her ranked #1 on our 2020 big board.)
In order to keep that slot, she needs to stake out her ground, mark her territory, plant her flag. She has to signal that, unlike 2016 when she was repeatedly courted to consider running but never seriously contemplated doing it, this time she means it. This is no dalliance, this is the real thing.
That is a message that matters to the liberal activist base of the party, yes, and to major donors who are beginning to look beyond 2018 to the race to be the Democratic nominee against Trump.
If Warren is smart, she knows that momentum and buzz in a presidential race is ephemeral. When you have it, you have to do everything you can to keep it. Winning a presidential race is like being a shark: If you stop moving, you die. Warren moved.
She’s not running, but she’s not not running.[Chris note: Strong Homer Simpson vibes here.] [Lauren note: D’oh!]
This development itself is interesting given the setting. Note that this news nugget didn’t come out of a slick sit-down interview with a high-profile news outlet. It came at a town hall, in response to a constituent question, in a town basically as far away from the Boston media market as you can get without leaving the state.
Also, keep in mind that this question comes up at basically every town hall Warren has (and she’s had over 30 just in the past year).
So why now?
Warren has always maintained she’s focused on her own re-election. But with her own Election Day a month away and a swelling pool of would-be 2020 contenders, Warren’s hand was forced to say something — any signal would do. But she didn’t “go there” go there — at least not yet.