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JOAN VENNOCHI

Endorse, Warren, endorse!

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, shown at a National Press Club event, is staying neutral in public – for now.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, shown at a National Press Club event, is staying neutral in public – for now. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Of course Senator Elizabeth Warren fiercely opposes Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

But which Democrat is she for? She has yet to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — at least not in public.

Her anti-Trump sentiments are loud and clear. After the business mogul sealed the deal on the GOP nomination by winning the Indiana primary Tuesday, she called him out, via social media, as a racist, sexist, xenophobic provocateur.

“I’m going to fight my heart out to make sure @realDonaldTrump’s toxic stew of hatred & insecurity never reaches the White House,” read one Warren tweet. “What happens next will test the character for all of us — Republican, Democrat, and Independent,” read another.

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She’s right. Warren’s political character is on the line as much as anyone’s — maybe more. After Warren turned down a national movement to draft her as a presidential candidate, Sanders picked up her progressive cause, and borrowed her rhetoric about a “hammered” middle class. Now Sanders — a “democratic socialist” who has never identified as a registered Democrat — argues that he should represent a party he never wanted to join. After winning Indiana, he’s vowing to take the fight to the convention, even though he trails Clinton in pledged delegates as well as in the popular vote.

This is where Warren could make a huge difference — the same kind made by the late Senator Ted Kennedy when he backed Barack Obama in 2008. If Warren backed Clinton now, it would give progressive voters permission to abandon Sanders and support her. That’s what endorsements from Ted and Caroline Kennedy did for Obama. It would also save Clinton from fighting a two-front war against Sanders and Trump.

Two delicate egos are involved: Warren’s and Sanders’.

If Warren endorses Clinton — as expected — she will want to maximize the impact. Waiting until the convention made sense as long as Clinton had the momentum. But after her loss to Sanders in Indiana, the perception of Clinton as presumptive Democratic nominee once again weakened. Meanwhile the campaign bubble of endless possibility that surrounds Sanders, no matter what the actual math, just got tougher to burst.

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Who better than Warren to do it? For the Democrats, she’s a rock star who is putting her political magic and fund-raising clout behind the effort to take back the Senate from a Republican majority. With that as her goal, she would never want a Republican — and certainly not Trump — to reclaim the White House. Yet as she tweeted Tuesday night: “@realDonaldTrump is now the leader of the @GOP. It’s real — he is one step away from the White House.”

It will take more than tweets to trip him up. Trump’s a proven master of social media, never its victim. Besides, how much do Warren’s tweets actually help Clinton? On one hand, she can be blunter than the candidate. On the other, her tweets do more to advance Warren as the true warrior who is brave and principled enough to take on Trump. She had the chance to be that warrior, but she rejected the draft. Now, if she cares about her party and its ability to win in November, she has to pick her surrogate. As she correctly warns, Trump is too close to the White House for comfort.

The longer and more bruising the fight between Clinton and Sanders, the easier it will be for Trump to bludgeon the one left standing.

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“I know which side I’m on . . . ” Warren posted on Facebook. It matters when she chooses to let everyone else know exactly which side that is — the sooner the better.


Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.