An odd thing happened to the woman who came onto the scene as an anti-banking, anti-establishment, burn-down-the-castle revolutionary: Elizabeth Warren became the castle.
In the past few years, she raised millions of dollars to build a political machine. She began talking up policy issues beyond the bread-and-butter economic proposals she became famous for. She bolstered her foreign-policy credentials with trips abroad. She built up a large team of staffers who carefully engineered policy rollouts and email blasts. She became a front-runner in the 2020 presidential race.
But as she announces her exploratory committee—which is really announcing her presidential campaign—Warren wants to be the outsider again.
As always happens with front-runners, Warren has become a target. She’s considered less shiny than some of the newer firebrands, who have themselves become the anti-establishment. Operatives working for several other Democratic candidates about to make their own announcements have insisted she’s the Hillary Clinton of 2020—and not in a complimentary way. They describe her as overly cautious and cold, carefully curating her “authentic” moments and struggling to escape a relatively small issue—her claim of American Indian heritage—that’s threatened to overtake her entire candidacy. Her big speech just after Thanksgiving on “a foreign policy that works for all Americans” sounded a whole lot like Clinton’s focus-grouped emphasis on “everyday Americans,” several operatives argue. She even has Bernie Sanders threatening to run to her left.