Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) underscored her 2020 campaign message of fighting the influence of special interests in Washington in a New Year’s Eve speech.
The address in Boston came on the first anniversary of Warren’s announcement that she would form an exploratory committee for a presidential run and as the Massachusetts Democrat works to reverse a slide in national and early-voting state polling about five weeks before the first nominating contest in Iowa.
Warren underscored her fight against “corruption in Washington,” a central theme of her campaign, citing the influence of powerful industries on Capitol Hill.
“Our democracy hangs in the balance. And now it comes to us — now it comes to us to fight back,” she told the crowd at Boston’s historic Old South Meeting House.
“So today we come together to imagine. To imagine a country where the decisions made in Washington aren’t simply bought and paid for by lobbyists and big donors,” she added. “To imagine a country where no politician has to kiss the rings of the rich in order to win elected office. We come together to imagine this reality because this reality is now within our reach.”
Warren ticked off a list of interest groups and industries that have become prime targets for several 2020 Democrats, including the National Rifle Association and the fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries.
Warren’s campaign has focused heavily on curtailing the ability of outside groups to donate to political candidates and has laid out several plans that it says will curtail their sway in D.C.
“When I am president, we will attack corruption in Washington head-on. We will attack the concentration of power that makes this government work great for the wealthy and well-connected, and not for much of anyone else,” Warren said.
The Massachusetts senator also attacked President Trump and his congressional allies, saying Republicans on Capitol Hill have morphed into “fawning, spineless defenders of his crimes” as they defend him against impeachment.
“Unless some Senate Republicans choose truth over politics, Donald Trump will be emboldened to try to cheat his way through yet another election,” she said in an apparent reference to Trump’s past remarks inviting foreign powers to dig up dirt on political adversaries.
Warren is still considered a top-tier 2020 candidate, though her polling has slipped after a summer surge that catapulted her to near front-runner status. She is currently in third place in the RealClearPolitics polling index behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Her rise in polling was blunted by an avalanche of attacks from other primary candidates hitting her over her “Medicare for All” proposal, which she has since modified. The speech represented a return to the economic populism that first produced her surge.
“The billionaires, the corporate executives and their favorite presidential candidates have one clear goal: to convince you that everything you imagine is impossible. To convince you that reform is hopeless. To convince you that because no one can be pure, it’s pointless to try to make anything better,” Warren said.
“Those with power — and those who do their bidding — dump an endless avalanche of excuses, misdirections and distractions on the American people. It’s all designed to get us to give up and resign ourselves to the way things are — with them in power and everyone else left behind.”
While Warren did not cite any of her primary opponents by name, she has been in a weeks-long feud with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) regarding transparency over his campaign’s finances and his private fundraisers. Buttigieg has since agreed to open his fundraisers up to the press.