BOSTON (SHNS) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched her presidential campaign with a February 2019 rally in Lawrence, attended by throngs of supporters, members of Congress and national media.
The Cambridge Democrat’s potential bid for the vice presidency, which could end up having big implications in Massachusetts, kicked off in a much quieter way, with a single word in a television interview last week.
More than a month after ending her presidential campaign, Warren’s name now comes up regularly as among the women that former Vice President Joe Biden might choose as his own running mate, a list that also includes Sens. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Biden, who like other candidates is largely running a virtual campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic, said at a March debate that he would pick a woman as his running mate.
While many of Biden’s former rivals stepped out of the race and helped propel his candidacy, Warren stayed in through Super Tuesday and did not back Biden until after he became the presumptive Democratic nominee. At that point, former President Barack Obama and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had been the last Democrat to remain in the race with Biden, also endorsed Biden.
President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election, has asserted that Sanders would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday had Warren left the race earlier. As he looks to the general election and condiders the pros and cons of possible running mates, Biden’s goals include energizing progressives who viewed Warren as among their champions, and appealing to centrists who can swing election outcomes in a close national race.
Warren initially indicated interest in serving as vice president in an April 15 interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Maddow asked Warren if she’d say yes if Biden asked her to be his running mate.
“Yes,” Warren responded. She did not elaborate and Maddow, after voicing appreciation for Warren’s “concise answer,” transitioned the show into a commercial break.
Later in the program, Maddow asked Warren what she would do to save lives in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic if she were vice president in a Biden administration or otherwise held “some sort of coronavirus czar role.”
Warren said she’d require additional reporting from nursing homes — which state lawmakers on Beacon Hill have also proposed — and use that information to determine how to deploy resources.
Democratic political consultant Mary Anne Marsh said Warren has laid out a “clear, thoughtful approach” to addressing the health and economic consequences of COVID-19, and, in light of that, “her stock has only gone up.”
“Elizabeth Warren had three plans for the pandemic before most people knew what it was,” said Marsh, a principal at the Dewey Square Group in Boston. “She had them back in early 2020 and has added to them since.”
Marsh said a “very complimentary” tweet from Obama caught her eye earlier this month. The April 6 tweet, posted about a week before Obama endorsed his former vice president, praised Warren for, “as she often does,” providing “a cogent summary of how federal policymakers should be thinking about the pandemic in the coming months.”
Marsh said Warren was also vetted as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and having been through that process already once gives her an advantage.
“I think Elizabeth Warren is on a short, short list and has to be considered seriously for vice president,” Marsh said.
Since ending her campaign after a series of Super Tuesday losses, Warren has remained active on social media and in television appearances. Her campaign website, which still has an active online store, now hosts information about Warren Democrats, a movement she launched in late March to organize in support of progressive candidates who share her ideas.
On Wednesday, Warren endorsed a slate of 20 Democratic women running for state and Congressional offices.
“We need to win back the White House â€” but we can’t stop there,” Warren said in an email announcing the endorsements. “To put people first as we work through this crisis â€” and to make big, structural change in 2021 and beyond â€” we need to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
In an April 18 interview on the MSNBC show “AM Joy,” Warren said she planned to help elect “more people who want to get in the fight on behalf of everyone, more people who have the vision to say, we don’t just have to have a country that works for those at the top, we can have a country that works for everyone.”
Host Joy Reid told Warren that she was “polling in a lot of places, particularly in Michigan and Washington, as somebody that a lot of people would like to see on that ticket.” But, Reid noted, there are others who “feel like it’s really important that the ticket that goes into November be diverse, be racially diverse, and that a black woman get the opportunity to be on it.”
She asked Warren if it is “workable for the Biden campaign to go in with an all-white ticket.”
“That is a decision that will be up to the vice president,” Warren said. “Here’s how I see it — I’m in this fight all the way no matter what.”
Warren and Sanders represented a more progressive wing of the Democratic presidential field than Biden does, and Marsh said Warren’s ideology could appeal to progressive voters, including potentially “a good chunk of” Sanders supporters.
Warren is now serving a U.S. Senate term that runs through 2024. She won re-election in 2018 with just over 60 percent of the vote, besting Republican challenger Geoff Diehl and unenrolled candidate Shiva Ayyadurai.
During his campaign, Diehl touted his support for President Donald Trump and repeatedly knocked Warren over what he described as her presidential ambitions, pointing to her national travels and saying that as a senator she would be focused more on her own efforts to attain higher office rather than the needs of Massachusetts. Warren had said during that campaign she would take a “hard look” at running for president.
If Warren were to end up vice president in a Biden White House, Massachusetts would lose its senior senator, triggering a wide open race to be her successor in a state that usually sends Democrats to Washington.
The junior senator, Ed Markey, is up for re-election this year, and is facing challenges from fellow Democrat Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Republican Kevin O’Connor.
A special election for Warren’s seat, if it opened up, could trigger a round of political dominoes.
In 2013, the last time a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts opened up, it was ultimately claimed by Markey. Then-state Sen. Katherine Clark won a special election for the Congressional seat Markey vacated, then-Rep. Jason Lewis took Clark’s place in the Senate, and in the November 2014 general election, Stoneham Democrat Michael Day claimed the House seat left open after Lewis’ departure.