Amid speculation that she may be a vice presidential candidate in 2016, US Senator Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that she will probably endorse a Democratic nominee for president during the primary and refused to say whether she will serve out her full Senate term.
Warren, a Democrat and the senior senator from Massachusetts, appeared on The Boston Globe interview series Political Happy Hour at Suffolk University, less than two weeks after she met privately with Vice President Joe Biden, who is mulling a presidential bid.
Asked if she plans to endorse a Democrat in the primary field, which includes former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Warren answered affirmatively but gave no indication of who that might be.
“Right now that’s not where we are,” Warren said of a possible endorsement. “I imagine that’s what I’ll do.”
Warren, a consumer advocate and hero of her party’s liberal wing, did not answer directly when asked if she will complete her full six-year term, which ends in January 2019. Serving out the full term would preclude her from running as a vice presidential candidate next year.
“I truly love this job, and it’s all I’m thinking about,” Warren said.
But will she stay in the job for the duration?
“There’s nothing that has changed any of my thinking on this,” she said. “I’m working hard.”
She also shed light on her private luncheon last month with Biden, who polled well against Clinton in a recent Quinnipiac University survey of three swing states.
Warren said that she and Biden discussed several topics including helping the middle class and “the capture of this country” by the wealthy and powerful. Warren demurred when asked if there was talk, even jokingly, of her joining Biden on the Democratic ticket if he enters the primary and wins the nomination.
“It was a long conversation,” Warren said.
On Wednesday, she also hit on many of the talking points that have established her as a fiery progressive and the bane of student lenders, large banks, and corporations chafing at her calls for stricter regulation of their industries.
On student loans, she asserted that the federal government is “charging too much interest” and “should not be making a profit off the backs of our kids.”
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She also vigorously defended the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care law that has helped millions of Americans get insurance but has also been plagued by myriad problems including a disastrous roll-out of a government website.
“Is it perfect yet? No, but I don’t require that for an A,” said Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor. “It [leads] us in the right direction, and it has provided protections that we did not have before.”
She told the host of the event, Boston Globe reporter Joshua Miller, that a provision of the law on prescription drug coverage will help “tens of thousands” of seniors in Massachusetts. She also highlighted the fact that young people can now remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26, and cited prohibitions against denying coverage for sick people.
While Warren made no mention of the Republican candidates for president, she leveled criticism at the GOP when she described the Democrats’ recent push to expand Social Security benefits for citizens who “need it most.”
Lawmakers have clashed over Social Security in recent years, with some conservatives proposing changes to the entitlement program that have drawn criticism from liberals, who say the changes amount to cuts that would harm the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
“Why are all the Democrats ready to talk about Social Security?” Warren said. “Why are all the Republicans trying to find reverse on their limousines to back this up? ... It’s because people all around the country said this matters.”
Other topics included a state ballot question to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and Warren, who previously opposed such legalization, said she is now “open to it.”
She also called for increased funding for medical research, and lamented the fact that she and her colleagues were unable to pass gun control legislation months after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
Asked if she has found common ground with any of her Republican colleagues in Washington, Warren said she is working with Utah Senator Mike Lee on banking regulations and with Oklahoma Senator James Lankford on efforts to make settlement agreements between the government and large companies public.
There were also humorous moments, with Warren declaring her preference for light beer, which she termed the “nectar of the gods,” and her weakness for fast food.
“Sometimes we do Chipotle,” she said. “I could probably close my eyes and recite most of the McDonald’s menu.”