WASHINGTON — Dropping out of the presidential race has not stopped Senator Elizabeth Warren from making the case practically daily that her ideas meet the moment — and her allies are hoping those ideas can shape a race for the White House that might still include her.
She has released a hailstorm of plans and legislation related to the coronavirus pandemic. She and her team have been in touch with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who spoke warmly about one of their conversations on Thursday. She has also spoken with former president Barack Obama recently, according to a person familiar with the interaction.
Now, Warren’s endorsement of Biden this week has fueled speculation that the Massachusetts Democrat is a serious contender for the party’s vice presidential nomination — an offer she said this week she would accept.
“Any decision is up to vice president Biden,” Warren said in an interview with the Globe. “I am 100 percent committed to trying to help our country manage this crisis and begin to rebuild the economy in a way that works for everyone. I’m going to do that no matter what.”
Warren’s public backing of Biden — rolled out in a week of marquee endorsements from Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — suggested she is seen as a significant figure in the party by a campaign team that is eager to project unity among Democrats. Biden’s campaign has yet to openly discuss plans for the selection of a running mate, but one top member of his team has said some details could come as early as next week.
That has not stopped wide speculation and even some open campaigning for the spot, which Biden has said will be filled by a woman.
All of the major women candidates for president — Warren, California Senator Kamala Harris, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar — are widely expected to make the short list, which Biden recently predicted would stand at around 11 people. Biden himself has mentioned Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan governor who has made headlines by tangling with President Trump, as well as New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.
Stacey Abrams, the former gubernatorial candidate and Senate minority leader in Georgia, is frequently mentioned as a woman of color who could excite progressives, and she told Elle Magazine this week that “I would be an excellent running mate.”
Although some Democrats believe Biden would be better off selecting a woman of color, or one from the Midwest, political analysts believe Warren could lend progressive bona fides and strong debate skills to a campaign that needs them.
Her backers believe that the coronavirus pandemic has made many of the ideas she campaigned on — including proposals to address structural racism and economic inequality — and the solutions she offered more relevant than ever.
“She’s somebody who nimbly addresses the problems in society, what’s going on right now, what we need to do,” said Representative Andy Levin of Michigan, who backed Warren during the primary. “I think she brings a big vision of the relationship between a crisis and our values and what needs to change in society.”
After she dropped out of the race, Warren dove quickly into negotiations over legislation dealing with the coronavirus crisis, urging her colleagues behind closed doors and in public not to agree to a $500 billion bailout for corporations without putting stricter oversight on it.
She has also pressed for other pieces of the coronavirus response that Biden has come to embrace, like canceling some federal student loan debt and boosting Social Security payments by $200 per person.
“I appreciate his leadership, especially during the COVID crisis. He’s been pushing for structural changes,” Warren said, praising a candidate with whom she once sharply clashed.
If history is any guide, Warren or members of her team are likely to make hiring recommendations to Biden. She has long believed that “personnel is policy,” and in 2015 dispatched a top political aide to discuss a list of personnel recommendations with members of Hillary Clinton’s political team.
In recent weeks, Obama, has praised her plans to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic — and the similarities between his endorsement of Biden and some of her signature lines on the campaign trail also drew notice.
Obama called for “real structural change,” which echoed Warren’s constant calls for “big structural change.” He also said the country needs to do more than “just tinker around the edges,” which sounded similar to her dismissal of ideas that “just nibble around the edges.”
In her endorsement of Biden, Warren said that even though the two had not always agreed — their clashes include differences on the campaign trail and a 2005 fight over a bankruptcy law Biden championed — he would be an empathetic and effective president.
“Elizabeth helped herself mightily by the very heartfelt, compassionate, and enthusiastic endorsement she gave,” said Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania who has known Biden for 35 years. “She said the right things.”
Rendell said Biden will not pick a running mate “based on politics alone,” but also out of a conviction “that his contenders are ready to be president.”
Biden’s campaign has been emphasizing the idea of party unity, and Warren’s decision not to endorse Sanders as he and Biden battled it out in the final stages of the race could be appreciated as a contribution to that effort.
Biden has emphasized the notion of trust and broad agreement on policy in his public comments about how he will choose a running mate.
“The person who he will ultimately pick will be somebody that he is simpatico with because he saw the importance of the president and vice president being able to be real partners,” said Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, which has endorsed Biden.
At 70, Warren is one of the oldest of the potential vice presidential candidates. Biden is 77.
In interviews this week, some influential Democrats showed enthusiasm for the possibility of a Biden-Warren ticket.
“I like Elizabeth Warren. … I like the fact that she’s vocal and articulate. I like her ideas,” said Bernard Schwartz, a major Democratic donor, who said he also liked others and said Biden should judge vice presidential contenders in part based on “what they’re doing during this critical time.”
And Charles Chamberlain, with the progressive group Democracy for America, said Warren would be a “fantastic choice,” who could help boost Biden among progressives.
But not all progressive leaders agree. Jennifer Epps-Addison, of the Center for Popular Democracy, which backed Sanders during the primary, said Biden will be “missing an opportunity” if he does not nominate a woman of color.
If Biden considers Warren as his running mate, it will not be the first time. In 2015, when he was pondering a run for president, Biden met with her privately and floated the idea of adding her to his ticket, although he ultimately chose not to run.
Her name also came up as Clinton mulled vice presidential prospects, according to one of her aides, in part because of her strength as a campaigner.
“Warren was fantastic on the trail with Hillary,” said Jennifer Palmieri. “She was somebody who was more seriously considered than people believed in ’16 because of that.”
“Like most women,” Palmieri added, “she could be even more effective when she’s campaigning for someone else, other than herself — then voters don’t get uneasy about all that ambition she has.”