‘I’m running for United States Senate in 2018. I am not running for president of the United States’
US Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that if reelected this fall, she intends to finish her second six-year term, going a step beyond her previous assertions that she doesn’t have interest in running for the White House in 2020.
“It’s certainly my plan,” Warren told moderator Jennifer Smith, of the Dorchester Reporter, when asked if she’d commit to completing a potential second term through 2024.
The Cambridge Democrat’s answer came in the final moments of an hourlong town hall, and was partially drowned out by applause from the 300 attendees as the event wrapped at the Boston Teachers Union Hall in Dorchester.
But speaking to reporters afterward, Warren repeated the answer that her “plan” is to serve another six years, adding she isn’t focused on a presidential run in two years.
“I’m running for United States Senate in 2018. I am not running for president of the United States,” she said.
The comment is notable, given that Warren repeatedly declined to commit to finishing a second term during an appearance on “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” that aired March 11.
That interview made headlines, as Warren said she had “no intention” of running for president. But when Todd asked about staying for another full six years, she said, “I already told you,” but didn’t directly answer.
Her comment Thursday was the only time she touched on her future plans during an event that focused largely on policy. Warren has been the focus of intense speculation for years about her White House ambitions, even as she’s publicly tried to play down larger plans.
But she’s also been adding to an already notable national profile. Days before her appearance on “Meet the Press,” Warren donated campaign funds to every single state Democratic Party and the DNC.
And in February, she made a surprise appearance at the National Congress of American Indians, where she forcefully denounced President Trump for deriding her as “Pocahontas” and defended her claims Native American heritage.
She told the gathered tribal leaders that she has never used her story of Native American heritage “to advance my career,” in what many viewed as an attempt to put to rest a sensitive issue that’s lingered since her 2012 campaign.
The speculation around a potential White House run, however, has fueled a frequent line of attack from the GOP hopefuls running for the Republican nomination to oppose her this fall.
State Representative Geoff Diehl of Whitman, Winchester businessman John Kingston, and Beth Lindstrom, a longtime Massachusetts GOP insider from Groton, have each criticized Warren as being more interested in positioning herself on the national stage than delivering for her constituents.
“If she was truly committed, she would not have waited five years to hold all these town hall meetings,” Diehl said in a lengthy statement his campaign released Thursday that homed in specifically on that charge.
Warren used the event to offer an outline of legislation she said she’s readying that would pump $100 billion into states over the next 10 years to fight the opioid scourge, a proposal she acknowledged will require connecting with Republicans.
Warren didn’t delve into details ahead of a scheduled Friday press conference to unveil the bill. She has pushed the Senate in the past to adopt proposals that would encourage hospice providers to dispose of leftover prescription opioids and require federal Health and Human Services officials to develop guidelines for operating recovery homes.
This bill, which she said she is filing with Maryland Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, is intended to go beyond “nibbling around the edges.”
“We want to make this money available to the states,” she said. “We recognize what’s happening in Massachusetts does not look exactly like what’s happening in South Dakota. . . . We want the states, we want localities, we want treatment centers to get the money directly.
“We’re working out the details,” she added. “But you better believe that I’m going to reach out not just to Democrats but Republicans. Come, let us work together on this issue, for the good of everyone.”
Warren hasn’t built a reputation on bipartisanship and is largely known as a liberal foil to the Trump administration and the Republicans who control Congress. But the opioid epidemic has often been framed as an issue politicians of all stripes can rally behind, and one that’s touched both liberal- and conservative-leaning states.
It’s a message Warren trumpeted Thursday.
“It’s not just people who voted for our team who are worried about this crisis,” she said. “We see this as something that Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to come together [on],” she said.