Politicians know they have to pick their words carefully. So after months of telling reporters she's "not running for president," it's safe to say Elizabeth Warren intentionally delivered a firm "no" to the question Tuesday.
In an interview with Fortune, the senator from Massachusetts and progressive hero ever-so slightly changed her tune when Sheila Bair asked, "So are you going to run for president?"
Warren's straightforward "no" in response is a notable shift in rhetoric. For months, she's stuck to the present tense—that she's "not running for president." But while her distinctly future-tense answer Tuesday suggested she really isn't going to run, it hasn't deterred progressive groups hell-bent on getting her in the race.
"If she were planning on running, there would probably be no reason for a draft campaign in the first place," Neil Sroka, the communications director for Democracy for America, one of the groups pushing Warren to run, told National Journal. This latest news, he said, "really isn't impacting our plans."
That may be true. But in December, Charles Chamberlain, DFA's executive director, told National Journal he took heart in Warren's present-tense denials.
"We're seeing her say, 'Look, I'm not running for president right now,' and I think she means it," he said. "She's not. But will she? Maybe. And that's what we're trying to do, is make that happen."
The Draft Warren groups have only ratcheted up their support since then. Last week, DFA and the liberal activist group MoveOn.org Political Action announced that more than 200,000 people have signed the petition urging her to run. And on Saturday, the groups will launch the New Hampshire arm of the Run Warren Run effort in Manchester.
"The growing momentum of the Draft Warren movement makes it clear that there is real, widespread support for Warren to run for president in 2016," Ready for Warren campaign manager Erica Sagrans told National Journal in an email response to Warren's new comments. "And we believe that we can convince her to do just that."
That against-the-odds hope might be naive. But as we saw last week, if Mitt Romney can be convinced to "think seriously" about throwing his hat in the 2016 ring, Warren supporters may have reason to hold out.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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