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Sen. Elizabeth Warren Announces 2020 Exploratory Committee


It is the last day of 2018, and one U.S. senator is announcing her plans for 2020. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, announced today that she's forming an exploratory committee for the 2020 presidential race. She made this announcement in a video that she sent to her supporters this morning.


ELIZABETH WARREN: How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.

KING: NPR's political correspondent Asma Khalid is with me now from Boston. Good morning, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning.

KING: So this announcement video, it's highly produced. It's not short. It seems to have a real message. What is Elizabeth Warren saying to her supporters?

KHALID: Well, Noel, in some ways it's kind of the same message that she's been saying for a long time. You know, Elizabeth Warren has really kind of staked her career on these sort of multifactorial issues around rebuilding the middle class, regulating banks and creating financial security for families. This is something she's been talking about when she was a law professor, something she's been writing about for a while and something she's certainly talked a lot about whenever you listen to any of her political speeches.

The video you mention is this kind of highly produced, 4 1/2-minute message that was sent out to supporters this morning. And it touched on her childhood in Oklahoma and also how her mom got this minimum-wage job at Sears that allowed their family to keep the family home at a point when her dad had some health issues. And so this is a message that you hear a lot, right? It was part autobiographical, telling who she was, but it also was kind of academic.

She's a former Harvard law professor. And so, like a true academic, there were these charts that you saw throughout the video showing the disparity between, say, white and black household wealth. You know, towards the end, she also did touch on President Trump and the need for Democrats to continue to persist. And she showed these vignette arches against the president. But really, overwhelmingly this was a message that she was trying to present positively about rebuilding the middle class and the need for some major economic reforms.

KING: So Warren is the first major Democratic candidate to make this kind of announcement, but she will certainly not be the last. How many more are we expecting?

KHALID: (Laughter) That is right. I would say we can look at a couple dozen getting into the race, right?

KING: Wow.

KHALID: And this is a really wide Democratic field. It's a really open contest. And it compares to, say, four years ago, or - I shouldn't say four years ago - two years ago at this point in 2016 when Hillary Clinton jumped in the race, and many people within her own party saw her as this kind of anointed frontrunner. There is no anointed frontrunner this year in the Democratic field.

And so earlier this month, we saw the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, Julian Castro - he's from Texas - he also announced an exploratory committee and said that he'll make a major announcement by January 12. We also already know that John Delaney, a congressman from Maryland, he's already in. He's been spending a lot of time in some early voting states. Even and another guy, Richard Ojeda, who ran for Congress in West Virginia and lost, has also announced he's running for president.

So we're going to sort of see a number of candidates. But what makes Warren's run really interesting is, look, she's been one of the most high-profile people to consistently criticize President Trump and has tangled with him over his first two years in office.

KING: And her economic message could certainly resonate, depending on what the economy does in the coming year. Asma, let me ask you lastly, does this mean that Elizabeth Warren is about to spend a lot more time in the early primary and caucus states?

KHALID: It certainly does. (Laughter) And one thing I should point out is, during the midterms, Elizabeth Warren did have a number of former staffers who were stationed, say, in New Hampshire or South Carolina. And so certainly, yes, we can expect to see more of her there.

KING: All right. It begins. NPR's political correspondent Asma Khalid. Thanks so much, Asma.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Noel King is a host of Morning Edition and Up First.