“Elizabeth Warren” hurriedly throws another piece of clothing into an oversized suitcase before snapping it shut and running down the stairs. She passes a cut-out picture of herself taped to a framed photo of the White House, and she heads to the door, where outside a Toyota Prius awaits in the driveway.
The license plate reads LIZ4PREZ. The bumper sticker: Warren 2020.
It’s a vision pundits have long imagined — and many progressive democrats have dreamed about — as speculation builds about the Cambridge senator’s presidential ambitions. It’s also coming to a television near you.
John Kingston, one of three Republicans vying in the Sept. 4 primary to face Warren this fall, is turning the vision into a cheeky 30-second TV spot, charging that she’s more focused on a possible White House run than Massachusetts.
“Elizabeth Warren is done being our senator. She’s already running for president,” says Kingston, who narrates the spot in which he calls himself a “political outsider” while labeling Warren one of Washington’s “extremists.”
“Like too many Massachusetts politicians, she’d rather skip the Fenway franks and instead eat Iowa corn dogs,” he says, a reference to that state’s crucial first-in-the-nation caucuses that draw presidential hopefuls en masse every four years.
For her part, Warren has repeatedly said in interviews that she’s focused on her Senate race and is not running for president. She told reporters in April her “plan” was to serve out her full six-year Senate term if reelected this fall, and a spokeswoman has said that Warren is “taking nothing for granted.”
But the buzz around her has been penetrating, enough that New York magazine already splashed her across its cover with the headline “Front Runner?”
It’s made for fodder in the three-way Republican primary, where Kingston, Geoff Diehl, a Whitman state representative, and Beth Lindstrom, a long-time Republican activist, have all framed Warren as eyeing a bigger prize than her Senate seat.
Kingston’s spot is the next step in that criticism and marks a dramatic shift in tone from the first TV ad he began running on cable TV in late July. In that ad, he vowed to strip funding from cities and towns that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
It also gives him two more TV spots than his competitors. After loaning $4.7 million of his own money to his campaign, Kingston has said he intends to spend $2 million on media advertising by the primary. He had $2.6 in his account to start July.
Meanwhile, Diehl and Lindstrom had $235,091 and $79,202 to start last month, respectively, raising doubts about whether they have the financial bandwidth to fund a competing media blitz absent a new infusion of cash.