Now running for the U.S. Senate, the consumer advocate conservatives love to hate turns out to have a deft touch on the stump
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- "Could we get a picture? Let's do a picture! I love doing pictures!" Elizabeth Warren exclaimed. It was Day One of her U.S. Senate campaign and about Minute Five of her visit to The Student Prince, a German bierhaus bedecked with thousands of beer mugs. And to my surprise, the bespectacled Harvard professor seemed in her element.
I confess I was among the many who wondered if Warren would come across as the out of touch Ivy-Leaguer that Republicans are trying to portray her as -- and curious if, like the ill-fated Martha Coakley, she would be terrible at politics. Maybe it's rash to make a judgment so early in her campaign, but Wednesday's appearance suggested that if she wins the Democratic nomination, she could give Republican Sen. Scott Brown quite the race.
Warren has no barn-coat, battered-truck "schtick," as one voter called Brown's everyman campaign persona. Nor does she plan to pose for a nude centerfold, as Brown did for Cosmopolitan while a young man. "I'm not competing there," she told me with a laugh.
But she will be competitive in ways that people may not expect. First, Warren seems to enjoy campaigning and demonstrates as much warmth and "relatability" as any seasoned pro on the trail. Hardly anyone went untouched of the dozens waiting to greet her at The Student Prince, the fifth and last stop of her announcement tour. I mean that literally -- she dispensed hugs and arm-pats to nearly everyone, clasped many hands with both of hers, and seems to have perfected the art of intense eye-contact, the kind that makes people think they are the only person in the room.