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Warren being considered as DNC keynote speaker

Democratic US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren talked during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Tuesday.
Democratic US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren talked during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Tuesday.Stephan Savoia/Assoiated Press

The crowds at political conventions feast on partisan red meat, and they could end up with a bellyful when the Republicans and Democrats meet back to back beginning late next month.

An Obama campaign official confirmed to the Globe Wednesday that US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is ­being considered as a possible keynote speaker for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

It would give the Massachusetts Democrat a national platform for her high-profile race against Senator Scott Brown, the same launch pad that ­Barack Obama used to vault ­into the public consciousness when he was an Illinois state Senator and was tapped to be the keynote speaker at the 2004 party meeting in Boston.


Other than the presidential and vice presidential nomination acceptance speeches, the keynote address is considered the gathering's prime speaking opportunity.

The New York Post reported that New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, will deliver the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Andrea Saul, a spokes­woman for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, gave a nondenial that propelled the story on television. "You'll have to stay tuned," she told MSNBC.

Christie himself told NBC, "I've gotten no invitation to do anything like that."

Warren demurred when the topic was broached Tuesday night, as she appeared at a ­political forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

"I got into this race not because I'm a lifetime politician, not because, you know, this was a great career move for me," she said as the audience laughed. But moderator Christopher ­Lydon interrupted her.

"Could be, could be. You going to be the keynoter at the Democratic National Convention?" he asked.

As the audience again chuckled, Warren herself gave a laugh before ignoring the question.

"So for me, what this is about is about these key principles that are at stake," she said.


The Obama campaign official, who ­requested anonymity to discuss internal campaign deliberations, emphasized that no formal invitations have been extended to any potential convention speakers.

Rather, the official said, some preliminary queries have been made to gauge interest and availability.

On the Republican side, for example, George H.W. Bush, the former president, has ­already declared he will not visit Tampa for health reasons.

In the case of both potential keynoters, the distinction ­between being queried and ­being invited gives both the convention organizers and prospective speakers an out.

"That is a question for the DNC, so you would have to ask them," said Warren spokeswoman Alethea Harney. "We have not been told about any formal role for Elizabeth. She is looking forward to attending the convention, spending time with the Massachusetts delegation, and supporting President Obama."

Like Christie, Warren ­espouses an unabashed partisan pride. Whereas the New Jersey governor stirs conservatives with antiunion rhetoric delivered with his smash-mouth style, Warren has stoked liberals with her support of middle-class "fairness" and her criticisms of Wall Street special interests.

Last December, the president was seen as channeling her message during an hourlong economic speech in ­Kansas.

"This isn't about class warfare; this is about the nation's welfare," the president said at one point.

The Washington Post said at the time: "Worth noting: Obama mentioned the words 'middle class' 18 times in his speech today; he said either 'fair' or 'fairness' 15 times."

During a rally last Friday in Virginia, Obama offered his version of a Warren speech that went viral last summer.


"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," the president said. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Republicans pounced on Obama's declaration that, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." They said it shows the president doesn't ­respect or understand private enterprise.

The speech, however, echoed one that Warren gave last year, arguing that the rich should pay higher taxes ­because they benefited from public services. Warren's speech, available on YouTube and Facebook, electrified Democrats who saw it as a bracing rejoinder to Republican arguments against tax increases.

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own, nobody," Warren said. "You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory."

Michael Levenson of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Adam Sege contributed to this report. Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter