23/09/2020

Warren may have just been handed a new strategy by her unexpected cheerleader Tom Steyer

Theres always a time when the race for the presidency becomes awkward, and last nights debate proved we have reached that time. Anyone paying attention to the news might have suspected it already, considering the story which began circulating earlier this week about Bernie Sanders allegedly telling Elizabeth Warren a woman would never be able to be president. It got so much worse onstage in Des Moines, Iowa.
So, Senator Sanders, youre saying you didnt say to Senator Warren that a woman couldnt be president? CNN moderator Abby Phillip asked in the second hour of the debate.
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That is correct, Sanders answered.
Without missing a beat, Phillips then turned to Elizabeth Warren and asked: Senator Warren, what did you say when Senator Sanders told you a woman couldnt be president? It was excellent comic timing, and it raised a big laugh from the audience. It also started off a toe-curlingly awkward exchange that began with Warren insisting, Im not here to fight with Bernie and ended with her and Bernie arguing for two difficult-to-watch minutes about how long ago 1990 was.
Warren is stuck between a rock and a hard place: that much is clear. She and Bernie Sanders have spent their time onstage thus far refusing to attack each other. They are old friends, they insist. They have worked on legislation together, they believe in the same things, and they dont think the debates should be the place where Donald Trump gets his bright ideas about how to take down his Democratic opponent in the 2020 race proper. Even their fans have a lot of crossover, with Warren supporters in particular known for cheering Bernie at events as loudly and enthusiastically as they cheer their own first-choice candidate.
But now the field is thinning, and Pete Buttigieg has emerged as an unexpected frontrunner in a race where electability comes up again and again. Buttigieg, the millennial mayor who loves to bandy about how young he is while also talking up his military and business experience (Pete has three years [in business] and I have 30, Tom Steyer pointed out onstage last night, before adding that he cares about climate change because of his children, who are around the same age as Buttigieg), is trying to style himself as the young, hip Joe Biden and its working. Democrats want to tempt lifelong Republicans away from Trump, to convince them that their party isnt their party while the controversial president is at the helm. They want to hit back at the Trump administrations claims that only crazy lefties would vote for a do-nothing Democrat. Mike Pence said just before the debate to a rally of Trump supporters that the Democrats stage would probably tip over because all the candidates were positioned so far on the left. Hes made the Republican 2020 strategy clear: position the Democrats as deranged, pie-in-the-sky radicals. Take a look at what they say about Trumps erratic tendencies and his untrustworthiness and say: Im rubber, youre glue.
So where does Warren fit into all of this? As Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden fight for the center-ground (Id like to bring us back to reality here, Klobuchar said sardonically when Sanders and Warren had just answered the same question by robustly attacking the evils of corporate America) and Sanders doubles down on his usual shtick, Warren has to work out a strategy. She is savvier than Sanders at doing so; as anyone who hates her will remind you, she used to be a Republican. She doesnt want to lose the support of those who back Bernie and like her by association, but she also wants to convince the DNC that shes as sensible, as experienced and as electable as a Buttigieg or a Biden. And for a woman especially, thats going to be an uphill struggle.
Pete Buttigieg is who we all thought Beto ORourke was going to be: the credible threat, the New Labour of America, the photogenic young white man from a state outside of the usual coastal elite blocs who doesnt want to shake things up too much. Warren doesnt want to attack what hes selling; thats not to her advantage. Instead, she needs to carefully step away from the shadow of Bernie Sanders and make sure shes seen in the same way to enough voters that she can get herself over the line.
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1/24 Bernie Sanders
The Vermont senator has launched a second bid for president after losing out to Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries. He is running on a similar platform of democratic socialist reform
2/24 Joe Biden
The former vice president recently faced scrutiny for inappropriate touching of women, but was thought to deal with the criticism well and has since maintained a front runner status in national polling
3/24 Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator is a progressive Democrat, and a major supporter of regulating Wall Street
4/24 DROPPED OUT: Bill De Blasio
The New York mayor announced his bid on 16 May 2019. He emerged in 2013 as a leading voice in the left wing of his party but struggled to build a national profile and has suffered a number of political setbacks in his time as mayor
5/24 Pete Buttigieg
The centrist Indiana mayor and war veteran would be the first openly LGBT+ president in American history
6/24
Michael Bloomberg, a late addition to the 2020 race, announced his candidacy after months of speculation in November. He has launched a massive ad-buying campaign and issued an apology for the controversial “stop and frisk” programme that adversely impacted minority communities in New York City when he was mayor
7/24 DROPPED OUT: Beto O’Rourke
The former Texas congressman formally launched his bid for the presidency in March. He ran on a progressive platform, stating that the US is driven by “gross differences in opportunity and outcome”
8/24 Steve Bullock
The Montana governor announced his bid on 14 May. He stated “We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone.” He also highlighted the fact that he won the governor’s seat in a red [Republican] state
9/24 Cory Booker
The New Jersey Senator has focused on restoring kindness and civility in American politics throughout his campaign, though he has failed to secure the same level of support and fundraising as several other senators running for the White House in 2020
10/24 Wayne Messam
Mayor of the city of Miramar in the Miami metropolitan area, Wayne Messam said he intended to run on a progressive platform against the “broken” federal government. He favours gun regulations and was a signatory to a letter from some 400 mayors condemning President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord
11/24 DROPPED OUT: Kirsten Gillibrand
The New York Senator formally announced her presidential bid in January, saying that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege
12/24 Kamala Harris
The former California attorney general was introduced to the national stage during Jeff Sessions testimony. She has endorsed Medicare-for-all and proposed a major tax-credit for the middle class
13/24 John Delaney
The Maryland congressman was the first to launch his bid for presidency, making the announcement in 2017
14/24 Tulsi Gabbard
The Hawaii congresswoman announced her candidacy in January, but has faced tough questions on her past comments on LGBT+ rights and her stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
15/24 Andrew Yang
The entrepreneur announced his presidential candidacy by pledging that he would introduce a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18
16/24 Julian Castro
The former San Antonio mayor announced his candidacy in January and said that his running has a special meaning for the Latino community in the US
17/24 Marianne Williamson
The author and spiritual adviser has announced her intention to run for president. She had previously run for congress as an independent in 2014 but was unsuccessful
18/24 DROPPED OUT: Eric Swalwell
One of the younger candidates, Swalwell has served on multiple committees in the House of Representatives. He intended to make gun control central to his campaign but dropped out after his team said it was clear there was no path to victory
19/24 DROPPED OUT: Seth Moulton
A Massachusetts congressman, Moulton is a former US soldier who is best known for trying to stop Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker of the house. He dropped out of the race after not polling well in key states
20/24 Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar is a Minnesota senator who earned praise for her contribution to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings
21/24 DROPPED OUT: Jay Inslee
Inslee has been governor of Washington since 2013. His bid was centred around climate change
22/24 DROPPED OUT: John Hickenlooper
The former governor of Colorado aimed to sell himself as an effective leader who was open to compromise, but failed to make a splash on the national stage
23/24 DROPPED OUT: Tim Ryan
Ohio representative Tim Ryan ran on a campaign that hinged on his working class roots, though his messaging did not appear to resonate with voters
24/24
The former Massachusetts governor launched a late 2020 candidacy and received very little reception. With just a few short months until the first voters flock to the polls, the former governor is running as a centrist and believes he can unite the party’s various voting blocs
1/24 Bernie Sanders
The Vermont senator has launched a second bid for president after losing out to Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries. He is running on a similar platform of democratic socialist reform
2/24 Joe Biden
The former vice president recently faced scrutiny for inappropriate touching of women, but was thought to deal with the criticism well and has since maintained a front runner status in national polling
3/24 Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator is a progressive Democrat, and a major supporter of regulating Wall Street
4/24 DROPPED OUT: Bill De Blasio
The New York mayor announced his bid on 16 May 2019. He emerged in 2013 as a leading voice in the left wing of his party but struggled to build a national profile and has suffered a number of political setbacks in his time as mayor
5/24 Pete Buttigieg
The centrist Indiana mayor and war veteran would be the first openly LGBT+ president in American history
6/24
Michael Bloomberg, a late addition to the 2020 race, announced his candidacy after months of speculation in November. He has launched a massive ad-buying campaign and issued an apology for the controversial “stop and frisk” programme that adversely impacted minority communities in New York City when he was mayor
7/24 DROPPED OUT: Beto O’Rourke
The former Texas congressman formally launched his bid for the presidency in March. He ran on a progressive platform, stating that the US is driven by “gross differences in opportunity and outcome”
8/24 Steve Bullock
The Montana governor announced his bid on 14 May. He stated “We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone.” He also highlighted the fact that he won the governor’s seat in a red [Republican] state
9/24 Cory Booker
The New Jersey Senator has focused on restoring kindness and civility in American politics throughout his campaign, though he has failed to secure the same level of support and fundraising as several other senators running for the White House in 2020
10/24 Wayne Messam
Mayor of the city of Miramar in the Miami metropolitan area, Wayne Messam said he intended to run on a progressive platform against the “broken” federal government. He favours gun regulations and was a signatory to a letter from some 400 mayors condemning President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord
11/24 DROPPED OUT: Kirsten Gillibrand
The New York Senator formally announced her presidential bid in January, saying that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege
12/24 Kamala Harris
The former California attorney general was introduced to the national stage during Jeff Sessions testimony. She has endorsed Medicare-for-all and proposed a major tax-credit for the middle class
13/24 John Delaney
The Maryland congressman was the first to launch his bid for presidency, making the announcement in 2017
14/24 Tulsi Gabbard
The Hawaii congresswoman announced her candidacy in January, but has faced tough questions on her past comments on LGBT+ rights and her stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
15/24 Andrew Yang
The entrepreneur announced his presidential candidacy by pledging that he would introduce a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18
16/24 Julian Castro
The former San Antonio mayor announced his candidacy in January and said that his running has a special meaning for the Latino community in the US
17/24 Marianne Williamson
The author and spiritual adviser has announced her intention to run for president. She had previously run for congress as an independent in 2014 but was unsuccessful
18/24 DROPPED OUT: Eric Swalwell
One of the younger candidates, Swalwell has served on multiple committees in the House of Representatives. He intended to make gun control central to his campaign but dropped out after his team said it was clear there was no path to victory
19/24 DROPPED OUT: Seth Moulton
A Massachusetts congressman, Moulton is a former US soldier who is best known for trying to stop Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker of the house. He dropped out of the race after not polling well in key states
20/24 Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar is a Minnesota senator who earned praise for her contribution to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings
21/24 DROPPED OUT: Jay Inslee
Inslee has been governor of Washington since 2013. His bid was centred around climate change
22/24 DROPPED OUT: John Hickenlooper
The former governor of Colorado aimed to sell himself as an effective leader who was open to compromise, but failed to make a splash on the national stage
23/24 DROPPED OUT: Tim Ryan
Ohio representative Tim Ryan ran on a campaign that hinged on his working class roots, though his messaging did not appear to resonate with voters
24/24
The former Massachusetts governor launched a late 2020 candidacy and received very little reception. With just a few short months until the first voters flock to the polls, the former governor is running as a centrist and believes he can unite the party’s various voting blocs
An odd factor that helped her out last night was the addition of billionaire Tom Steyer, who stands accused of buying his way onto the debate stage. Despite having used his wealth to involve himself in the Democratic process, Steyer performed as an unexpected cheerleader for Sanders and Warren; even while stressing that the economy would be the biggest issue in the 2020 election and that an entrepreneur like him, who inherited none of his massive wealth, could go toe-to-toe with Trump in a way that others cant, he also spoke passionately about the corporates which have a stranglehold over America. He nodded along with Sanders and Warren, even once pointing at Sanders while he was talking and mouthing: Yes! He made the case that he is a wealthy, financially discerning American who has been inside the belly of the beast and still thinks proposals like Medicare-for-All make the most sense and, surprisingly enough, he made it well.
Many Warren supporters may resent his presence in the race, but I expect she will have been watching his performance closely. If she wants to make a case for her ideas which doesnt feel like it was borrowed from Bernie, shell have to start talking about how and why billionaires end up nodding along with left-leaning proposals and bringing everyone in America who thinks of themselves as a potential Tom Steyer to the church of Elizabeth Warren.