U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, fresh off her re-election win Tuesday night, said Thursday she had no timeline to decide whether to run for president, instead focusing on what she thinks Congress needs to do to keep the Russian election meddling investigation alive and enact “basic” gun safety laws.
Warren, in the buildup to her victory over Republican Geoff Diehl, had said that after the midterms she would take a “hard look” at the 2020 race for president. Two days after the midterms she had little to add.
“It’s less than 48 hours. I said I would take a hard look and I will. Too early,” said Warren, who won her second term with 60 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Asked if she had a timeline for making a decision, Warren said, “I don’t have a timeline for this.”
The last three presidential hopefuls from Massachusetts have all announced their campaigns sometime between February and September in the year prior to the election.
With President Donald Trump and Democratic animosity toward the White House helping to animate turnout in the midterms, the 2020 race is widely expected to start soon and draw a wide array of Democrats interested in challenging the polarizing president.
Warren, however, said she had no opinion on whether the Democratic Party would benefit from the type of debate and exchanges of ideas that could come from a crowded primary. Some Democrats still feel the party made a mistake in 2016 by appearing to quickly coalesce around Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee rather than waiting to see whether other candidates, such as Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, were more worthy of the party’s nomination.
“I think you need a pundit for that one,” she said, when asked about whether a crowded primary would be good for the party.
Warren, however, didn’t need a talking head to try to read the tea leaves on Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I think he’s trying to foam the runway for getting rid of the special prosecutor,” she said. “It seems pretty obvious to me. Jeff Sessions has been with Donald Trump on every single issue except the fact that Sessions has protected the special prosecutor at a time when Donald Trump is under investigation and obviously doesn’t like that.”
Warren said the House and Senate should immediately pass legislation to protect Mueller from firing and thinks it should be done with “overwhelming majorities” of Democrats and Republicans. So far, Warren said Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made clear they don’t think legislation is required.
Warren took questions from the press for close to 20 minutes on Thursday from her campaign headquarters in Dorchester where the Massachusetts Democratic Party anchored its coordinated campaign activities to help candidates up and down the ballot this cycle.
The post-election question-and-answer session followed midterm elections that saw Democrats seize control of the House in Washington, but in the Senate Republicans grew their majority as Democrats in Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and Florida lost.
“It’s going to be hard losing Senate colleagues, but I am very excited about taking back the House of Representatives. We are going to have a lot more allies for the issues that we care deeply about in Massachusetts,” Warren said.
Those allies, Warren said, will include more women in Congress than ever before, and legislators who ran on issues like health care, gun safety, protecting Social Security and weeding out corruption in government.
Asked about the shooting at a Thousand Oaks, California bar that killed 12 on Wednesday night, Warren said she hoped the results from Tuesday would help push Congress to act on gun control.
“I am so deeply sorry for the families that have lost loved ones,” Warren said. “The United States Congress has been held hostage by the NRA for long enough. It is time for us to move on basic gun safety regulations that the overwhelming majority of Americans support, that the overwhelming majority of gun owners support.”
Warren said that Democratic control of House makes it more likely that there could be a vote on gun safety legislation.
“That creates a lot of momentum. A lot of push. I hope that with action out of the House that we will be able to persuade our colleagues in the Senate to move as well,” she said.
While Democrats did well in House races around the country, the results were more mixed in statewide contests for Senate and governor in states like Ohio, where Sen. Sherrod Brown won re-election, but Richard Cordray, for whom Warren campaigned, lost his race for governor.
Warren said she didn’t know what Tuesday’s results said about the Democrats’ future ability to take control of the Senate, but praised candidates like U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin who “just put it all out there” in her re-election race in Wisconsin and campaigned on protecting access to health care and against tax breaks for the rich and corporations.
“That’s the core tension at the heart of America right now. Who’s going to get out there and fight for people who just want a chance to build a little security going forward?” Warren said.
At home in Massachusetts, with the exception of the race for governor, Democrats also did well in the midterm election.
Bickford credited Warren with pouring roughly $1.2 million in the state party’s coordinated campaign.
“Not only did no Democratic incumbents lose, but we picked up three seats. That had to do with how many people we had on the doors,” Bickford said, later telling the News Service that the party knocked on 170,000 doors in 48 hours at the end of the campaign.
Bickford credited that get-out-the-vote push with helping to win in places like Attleboro, a city represented by Rep. Jim Hawkins and Sen. Paul Feeney, both Democrats who won their first full terms. He also mentioned Becca Rausch, a Democrat who pulled out a close race against Republican Sen. Richard Ross.
“That all happened because people were out on the doors talking to people about issues that mattered to them. That was the priority of this campaign with Elizabeth and her team,” Bickford said.
The chairman dismissed the idea that Democrats should have done even better than three pickups in year when turnout eclipsed 2.6 million.
“No, I don’t think so. When you look at the history of Massachusetts, it’s a much more conservative electorate in the midterm elections. We pick up seats in the presidential years,” he said.