If there's one thing we've learned from Elizabeth Warren's book tour so far, it's that she's too popular for anyone to take her presidential run denials seriously. There are a lot of liberals who still want her to save them from Hillary, whether Warren wants to run or not.
Politico's MJ Lee described the Beatlesmania-like obsession among the fans who went to see the Massachusetts Democrat in New York and Boston this week. “I’m a little obsessed with Sen. Warren,” Jack Califano, a 20-year-old Sarah Lawrence student, told Politico. "I would vote for her in a heartbeat. Honestly, as soon as she announces, I would drop out of school to work for her.” Others said they found Warren inspiring and fresh, while Hillary Clinton seems "scripted." Warren has repeatedly and explicitly said she's not running for president, but that doesn't seem to be deterring her base, or her book sales.
Warren is promoting her new book A Fighting Chance, a memoir about how the struggles of her lower middle class Oklahoma family drove her to fight income inequality. It's the second-best selling book on Amazon after Thomas Piketty's Capital, another book that, as The Huffington Post put it, argues "the game is rigged against the middle class." In other words, her message in a nutshell. The Boston Globe's Noah Bierman argues that Warren's trip to promote her book has been a "softball media tour" with "no Fox interviews for her, no Rush Limbaugh, and very few tough questions." She's been on everything from CBS's Sunday show to The Daily Show, and even The View. Her book tour has "benefited from a canny media strategy and some luck in the form of a relatively slow news week, while Congress is in recess," but by not appearing on national stations she's able to weigh in on the issues that matter to her, and not the scandal of the day.
And the issues she's been focusing on, income inequality and financial corruption, are the ones that fire up her populist base. Politico spoke with Alex Wright, a 23-year-old session singer with $50,000 in student loans who was inspired both by Warren's work against predatory lending and the fact that she's not another Clinton. “If Clinton were to run and win, we would go: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton,” Wright said. “It’s the same people. It speaks to a certain pedigree you have to have. It would be very un-American.”
Clinton has tried to gain populist street cred from candidates like Bill de Blasio in the past, but she's not fooling Warren Democrats. Warren's populist message has made her a little like the left's equivalent of Ted Cruz, in that Democratic presidential hopefuls have to convince her supporters that they "get" Warren's anti-Wall Street message. Even then, her fans don't want a cheap populist knock-off.
And Warrenites might not have to settle, argues The Washington Examiner's Byron York. Warren has repeatedly said she's not running for president, but "that's the oldest lawyerly evasion in the book," York writes. "Warren, a former law professor, did not say, 'I am not going to run for president.' Instead, she said she is 'not running,' which could, in some sense, be true when she spoke the words but no longer true by, say, later this year." York notes that this is probably her last chance to run age-wise (basically, Warren is old, but Biden and Clinton are even older) but more importantly, the left needs a hero. "At some point, Democrats are going to realize the precariousness of their unthinking devotion to a single, flawed candidate," York writes. "Elizabeth Warren could remind them there's someone else to vote for." Some people don't need to be reminded.