Sunday 19 November 2017

'Hillary's nightmare' as rival threatens White House bid

US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Reuters
US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Reuters
Elizabeth Warren

Peter Foster Washington

SHE has been described as "Hillary's nightmare" – a banker-bashing, consumer-championing US senator who liberals believe could mount a serious challenge to Mrs Clinton in the 2016 US general election.

Officially, Elizabeth Warren, a 64-year-old former Harvard law professor and Massachusetts senator, has no ambitions for the White House.

"I'm not running for president," she told ABC News.

But she was in the television studios to promote a new autobiography that, in the traditions of books such as Barack Obama's 'The Audacity of Hope', sounded to many pundits very much like a campaign manifesto; and in Washington circles her denials that she would run only succeeded in deepening speculation that she might.

The publication of 'A Fighting Chance', which tells the story of Mrs Warren's hard-scrabble upbringing in Oklahoma, comes out six weeks before Mrs Clinton's own campaign book, 'Hard Choices', hits the bookstores in June.

Asked in the same interview if she thought that the former first lady would make a good president, Mrs Warren stopped short of unequivocal endorsement, replying obliquely: "I think Hillary Clinton is terrific."

Mrs Warren, a figurehead of the liberal left and popular on late-night television chat shows for her attacks on Wall Street and income inequality, has been spoken of as a possible presidential contender ever since her barnstorming speech at the Democrat convention in 2012.

Then, as in her new book, Mrs Warren lashed out at an economy that she says is "rigged" in favour of big business, a message that polls show is popular among America's disgruntled middle-classes who have seen little evidence of recovery in their own wages since the end of the 2007 financial crisis.

"Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion-dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favour," Mrs Warren writes. "Meanwhile, hard-working families are told that they'll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children."

SECRET

Although Mrs Warren was among the 16 Democrat female senators who signed a secret letter last year urging Mrs Clinton to run for president, her deeply populist message contrasts somewhat with the Clintons' establishment profile and Wall Street ties.

She has made much of her own tough upbringing as a carpet salesman's daughter who attended government schools, was waiting at tables aged 13, got married at 19 and lived on the "ragged edge" of the American middle-classes. Mrs Warren cuts a solo figure in public life, with her family making very few appearances on the campaign trail when she ran for the Senate in 2012.

She has spoken of the difficulties of being a working mother of her two grown-up children, Amelia and Alexander, from her first marriage to Jim Warren. The marriage ended in 1978, but she kept the Warren name when she married Bruce Mann, a law professor at Harvard, in 1980.

The landslide victory of Bill de Blasio in the New York mayoral contest last November, when he won 73pc of the vote and became the first Democrat mayor for 20 years, led to calls from the liberal wing of the Democrat Party for Mrs Warren to run.

Her book was variously described by reviewers yesterday as a "campaign call to arms" and a "manifesto not-so-subtly announcing a politician's aspirations for higher office". It also provoked fresh rounds of discussion on political talk shows.

For her part, Mrs Warren dismissed the talk of a presidential bid as the idle chatter of "pundit world" and urged greater focus on the core economic issues that faced an America where 95pc of income gains between 2009 and 2012 accrued to the wealthiest 1pc.

Curiously, Noam Scheiber, the conservative magazine pundit who coined the phrase "Hillary's nightmare" said that after reading Mrs Warren's book and noting the favourable way that she portrayed Mrs Clinton during their dealings in the Senate, he had now concluded Mrs Warren would not run after all.

Whatever Mrs Warren's decision, Mrs Clinton remains the front-runner, with a Fox News poll finding that 69pc of Democrats backed her for the nomination, ahead of vice-president Joe Biden on 14pc and Mrs Warren on a distant 6pc. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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