The Slatest

Elizabeth Warren Launches Presidential Campaign: “Our Fight is For Big, Structural Change”

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during her presidential candidacy announcement event at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, MA on February 9, 2019.
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during her presidential candidacy announcement event at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, MA on February 9, 2019.
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren made it official Saturday, launching her campaign for the White House with a rally in the working-class Massachusetts town of Lawrence. The theme of her campaign was encapsulated by where she chose to make her run official considering it is where textile workers went on strike to protest wage cuts in 1912. It came to the surprise of no one that Warren struck a populist tone in a campaign launch that focused on economic inequality and a call to take on bold action in favor of the working class. “This is the fight of our lives. The fight to build an America where dreams are possible, an America that works for everyone,” Warren said. “And that is why I stand here today: to declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States of America.”

Although she criticized President Donald Trump, Warren also made sure to emphasize that he wasn’t the cause, but rather the symptom of a larger problem. “The man in the White House is not the cause of what is broken, he is just the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America,” Warren said. “A product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else. So once he’s gone, we can’t pretend that none of this ever happened.”

Even though Trump’s administration is the “most corrupt in living memory,” the country’s problems go far beyond the changes he has implemented since moving into the White House. “It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration,” Warren said. “We can’t afford to just tinker around the edges—a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big, structural change.”

Recalling the story of what happened in 1912 in Lawrence, Warren said it was time for workers to stand up to the modern version of the mill owners who tried to cut workers’ wages at the turn of the century. “When I talk about this, some rich guys scream ‘class warfare!’” Warren said. “Well, let me tell you something, these same rich guys have been waging class warfare against hard-working people for decades—I say it’s time to fight back!” Warren also noted that the current state of affairs means many working families are struggling and that needs to change. “Today, millions and millions and millions of American families are also struggling to survive in a system that’s been rigged—rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected,” Warren said.

In her message that took shots at the extremely wealthy, Warren also outlined a challenge to her challengers in the party. While touting her refusal to accept money from lobbyists, corporate PACs or super PACs in general, Warren called on “every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing.”

Warren launched her campaign at a time when she is trying to move on from the questions surrounding her claims of Native American ancestry. She has repeatedly apologized for releasing the results of a DNA test but this past week served as a reminder of why the issue will continue to play a role in her campaign. The Washington Post revealed last week that Warren had identified as “American Indian” in her registration card for the State Bar of Texas. Warren later apologized. “I can’t go back,” Warren said in an interview with the Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”

Trump’s campaign quickly criticized Warren, focusing on her claims of Native American ancestry. “Elizabeth Warren has already been exposed as a fraud by the Native Americans she impersonated and disrespected to advance her professional career, and the people of Massachusetts she deceived to get elected,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement . “The American people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas.”