Elizabeth Warren has officially launched her 2020 bid for the White House with a speech in her home state of Massachusetts that focused on fighting what she called a “rigged system”.
The Democrat, a former law professor, delivered a sharp call for change, decrying a “middle-class squeeze” that has left Americans crunched with “too little accountability for the rich, too little opportunity for everyone else.”
‘This is the fight of our lives,’ the senator from Massachusetts said during her rally in the working-class town of Lawrence.
She and her backers hope that message can distinguish her in a crowded Democratic field and help her move past the controversy surrounding her past claims to Native American heritage.
Mr Trump’s campaign immediately issued a statement citing the controversy that said Ms Warren has been “exposed as a fraud by the Native Americans she impersonated and disrespected to advance her professional career”.
Weaving specific policy prescriptions into her remarks, from Medicare for All to the elimination of Washington “lobbying as we know it”, the lawmaker avoided taking direct jabs at Mr Trump. She aimed for a broader institutional shift instead, urging supporters to choose “a government that makes different choices, choices that reflect our values”.
“It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration. We can’t afford to just tinker around the edges – a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big, structural change,” Ms Warren said. The president “is not the cause of what’s broken,” Ms Warren told the crowd. “He’s just the latest – and most extreme – symptom of what’s gone wrong in America.”
Ms Warren has $11m (£8.5m) left over from her commanding 2018 Senate re-election victory that can be used on her presidential run. She also joins the race with a slate of high-profile endorsements including Joe Kennedy III and Ed Markey, two popular Democrats whose backing could prove valuable.
She held an event later on Saturday in New Hampshire, home to the nation’s first primary, and plans to spend Sunday in Iowa, where the leadoff caucuses will be the first test of the candidates’ viability in more than a year’s time.
Elizabeth Warren: “I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign. I’m not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf.” Via CBS pic.twitter.com/QBchCOyAbz
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1)
Ms Warren was the first high-profile Democrat to signal interest in running for the White House, forming an exploratory committee on New Year’s Eve.
Now, she joins at least five other senators and a growing pool of Democrats seeking a shot at unseating the president.
She enters the race as one of the party’s most recognisable figures. She has spent the past decade in the national spotlight, first emerging as a consumer activist during the financial crisis. She later led the congressional panel that oversaw the 2008 financial industry bailout. After Republicans blocked her from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she helped create, she ran for the Senate in 2012 and unseated a GOP incumbent.
But she must compete against other popular Democrats who will be able to raise substantial money. A recent CNN poll found that fewer Democrats said they would be very likely to support Ms Warren if she runs in comparison to those pledging support for the former vice president Joe Biden, Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders.
That challenge is on display this weekend as Democratic presidential contenders – or those considering a run – fan out across the crucial early-voting states. Cory Booker is in Iowa, while Kirsten Gillibrand is visiting South Carolina. Another possible presidential rival, Sherrod Brown, planned to be in New Hampshire on Saturday, while Amy Klobuchar is announcing her bid on Sunday in her home state of Minnesota.
The Associated Press contributed to this report