Elizabeth Warren. Massachusetts liberal, right?
Extreme left, isn’t she?
These are how many politically aware people have branded her. And Lord knows that Democratic consultants have.
But Senator Warren has a background that most people forget about – if they even knew about it, at all.
And that secret would be her strongest selling point as a VP candidate for Hillary Clinton…
Even through Bill Clinton’s administration, Elizabeth Warren was a Republican.
That’s right. Not only was she just a Republican, but she was a Republican who grew up in Oklahoma, and moved to Texas, before coming east.
Now, for those of us who have already branded her a Massachusetts liberal, that’s just kind of shocking.
For less politically obsessed voters (which is to say “most voters”), who don’t know who Elizabeth Warren is, this is an extremely powerful intro to her and who she is.
Here’s how she put it.
I was an independent. I was with the GOP for a while because I really thought that it was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets. And I feel like the GOP party just left that. They moved to a party that said, “No, it’s not about a level playing field. It’s now about a field that’s gotten tilted.” And they really stood up for the big financial institutions when the big financial institutions are just hammering middle class American families. I just feel like that’s a party that moved way, way away.
A lot of pundits and consultants focus on Sen. Tim Kaine as a favorite for Clinton’s VP because, to them, he’s more moderate. He’s more likely to calm any fears that Hillary Clinton is going to be some wild-eyed liberal. The thinking goes that this safeness will peel off moderate Republicans who might vote for Trump.
I would argue that the campaign will get the chance to introduce Elizabeth Warren to most voters. And, a good campaign would successfully introduce her as the moderate-Independent Republican who made the leap to the Democratic side.
Not only that, but Senator Warren made that leap for all the reasons that are being talked about as major drivers of votes this season – the rigged economy, average people having a say, etc.
It’s the difference between an active message and passive message.
By that, I mean that Tim Kaine, as good of a guy as he is, and as good of a VP as he would be, doesn’t actually sell anyone on anything. His appeal is just his presence as a non-threatening VP pick. A kind of security blanket that is there if you need to feel assured about your Clinton vote, if you’re a Republican.
Warren is all about the sale. She can go out and say, “Look, I was where you are right now, Republicans. I was an Oklahoma born and raised Republican-leaning Independent, and then a Republican. And, with all due respect to President Clinton – I was one during his administration. I still have all those same values that used to be Republican values – common decency and respect towards each other, giving people a fighting chance to achieve all that they can achieve, and responsible stewardship of the economy. And let me tell you, that is not Donald Trump. And that is not the GOP, anymore. As someone who was once where you are now, I can guarantee that you will have a real voice in Hillary Clinton’s administration.”
That’s an active sell.
Now, maybe Clinton’s polling and focus testing is telling her that moderate GOP voters are going to change which way they lean because Tim Kaine just existing makes them feel safe.
I’d argue that they should test the argument that Elizabeth Warren was one of them and understands where they are coming from. She understands why they’re so on-the-fence about continuing to vote Republican and can speak for them in an administration.
My guess is that testing that message will move more moderate GOP voters in swing states than the Tim Kaine argument.
In fact, I’d be willing to put money down on it.