Elizabeth Warren Not Running for President, Unless She Does

The senior Senator from Massachusetts denies interest in 2020 but won't promise to serve out a new Senate term.

POLITICO (“Warren: ‘I’m not running for president’“):

Sen. Elizabeth Warren insisted Saturday that she was not running for the White House in 2020, but the Massachusetts Democrat repeatedly dodged on whether she would serve her full six-year term if she wins re-election to the Senate this November.

“I am in this fight to retain my Senate seat in 2018. That’s where I’m focused,” Warren told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, in an interview scheduled to air in full on Sunday. “That’s where I’m going to stay focused. I’m not running for president.”

Asked repeatedly if she would serve a full six-year term if re-elected, Warren said she was not running for president and would fight “for the people of Massachusetts, and for the people across this country.”

Can we just acknowledge that this is a stupid question and stop asking it? As with athletic coaches under consideration for bigger jobs elsewhere, denials are meaningless.

One imagines Warren would like to be President. Most politicians—and certainly almost all Senators and governors—would. But that path is much harder if she doesn’t win re-election this November.

I haven’t the foggiest how far along her decision process is on the 2020 race. Given the ridiculous timescale of presidential campaigns, she’ll have to decide whether to at least launch an exploratory effort very soon or else major donors, top-flight organizers, and the like will start aligning with Joe Biden and other potential candidates. Regardless, she can’t very well say now that she’ll immediately start running for another job.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Campaign 2020, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Warren will be 70 in 2020.

    Biden will be 77.

    Bernie Sanders will be 78.

    And Trump will be 74

    Are septuagenarians all we’re going to get in 2020?

    Not to be “ageist” or anything but it seems like its time for a younger generation to start taking the lead.




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  2. MBunge says:

    Do the people of Massachusetts deserve to know if Warren is going to run for President? The answer to that seems obvious…but only if you view it from the perspective of the general interest and not what best serves the elite. This casual deceit benefits no one except the politician in question and is built on several unattractive assumptions about the common folk and their supposed betters. Warren absolutely knows right now if she’s at least going to try and run for President. She’ll have to start overtly campaigning almost immediately after her Senate election. Almost everyone who casts a ballot for or against her will know what she’s planning to do even if she hasn’t announced it.

    Of course, this kind of little white lie isn’t that important outside of illuminating the difference between wishing Warren would tell the truth and wishing people would stop asking the question.

    Mike




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  3. James Pearce says:

    One imagines Warren would like to be President.

    One also imagines she doesn’t want to be called “Pochahontas” by her (74 year old) opponent for the next few years.

    Whoever runs against Trump is signing up for some major abuse, and there is nothing to assure us that it will only come from Trump’s mouth.




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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, it’s amazing that the benches are so thin that we keep recycling the same folks.

    @MBunge: In a perfect world, politicians planning to seek other offices wouldn’t even run. I’d be happy with laws forbidding people running for another office while getting paid to serve in another one. Until that happens, though, we’re going to get this and it’s silly to pretend otherwise.




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  5. @James Joyner:

    It’s kind of hard for a bench to develop when the old guard won’t get out of the way. I like Biden, and I think he’d probably have made a good President if he had run and certainly a better one than Trump, but the idea that people who have been in politics since I was four years old are still considering running for office seems absurd.




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  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I agree and I’m an “old” as the youngsters say (71 yoa). I consider myself a social democrat and hear more of what I like from younger politicians not those of my generation.




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  7. michael reynolds says:

    I’m with @Mr. Prosser*. I’m 63, have in-laws in their 80’s, and as much as I acknowledge that 70 is the new 60, come on. We do have a bench of younger candidates. And if we wanted an old guy I’d push for Jerry Brown. He’s 79 now and seemingly in good shape, and he did rescue California from the mess left behind by Republicans. Cleaning up after Republican disasters is the core Democratic competency.

    *In my youth I worked in law firm libraries and as a result the name “Prosser” connects instantly with “on Torts.”




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  8. teve tory says:

    PredictIt does have Biden and Sanders in the lead at the moment, but Harris, Booker, Gillibrand, and Klobuchar are solidly on the board. I think we’ll see several more emerge in the next 18 mos.




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  9. teve tory says:

    Kamala harris, btw, has been super visible on Twitter, and her messages are clear and straightforward and polished. Right now my money’s on her, even though in a perfect world she’d be more liberal.




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  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Not to be “ageist” or anything but it seems like its time for a younger generation to start taking the lead.

    I’m tired of these people. Just look at the last election … Clinton, Trump, Sanders, Biden, even Jill ‘Fricken Stein.




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  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    @michael reynolds: Don’t know anything about torts, the name comes from Mr. Prosser in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He was the tubby, put upon, ineffectual bureaucrat and direct descendant of Genghis Khan sent to tear down Arthur Dent’s house.




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  12. James Pearce says:

    @teve tory:

    Kamala harris, btw, has been super visible on Twitter

    What epithets will Trump reserve for her, I wonder?

    (Just kidding, I don’t wonder.)




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  13. michael reynolds says:

    @teve tory:
    I have been watching my junior senator, and I’m not seeing a rock star yet. She needs experience.

    I suspect the single thing people will be looking for in 2012 is integrity. The clown show is exhausting, the corruption will all come spilling out, and voters will want a grown-up of proven, demonstrated integrity. I don’t know who that is yet.




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  14. Gustopher says:

    @teve tory: Booker is up for reelection in 2020, so he would have to decide to not run for his senate seat. I don’t think he would even be able to postpone the Senate decision until the nomination was decided. So he’s probably not going to run.

    It’s a shame, since I think a man who runs into burning buildings to rescue people would make a good contrast with Donald Trump.




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  15. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Go ahead and be ageist. I’ll be 66 this summer, already consider myself too old to run for President and was saying the same thing that you are saying now in 2014 when Hillary was denying her interest in running. I supported her campaign for “Grandma.” President? Not so much.




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  16. John Hession says:

    “Faux-cahontas Warren has been asked by a Mass. newspaper if she would take a simple saliva test to determine if she really was of Native American descent. So far, no reply. I expect her to dodge that question forever. For the uninitiated, Warren claimed such ancestry at U. Penn Law School and again at Harvard to get preferential job treatment.




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  17. teve tory says:

    It’s a shame, since I think a man who runs into burning buildings to rescue people would make a good contrast with Donald Trump.

    IDK about that. After all, Trump would run into a building unarmed to confront a school shooter with an AR-15. That seems pretty brave.




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  18. Kylopod says:

    A walk down memory lane…

    “Obama says he is ‘absolutely positive’ he will not run for president in 2008.”

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-07-24-obama_x.htm




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  19. James Pearce says:

    @John Hession: First things first, John. First we see Trump’s tax returns, then we swab Elizabeth Warren’s mouth.




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  20. Kylopod says:

    Once again, the notion that Warren lied about her ancestry in order to advance her career is baseless slander:

    The head of the committee that brought Warren to Harvard Law School said talk of Native American ties was not a factor in recruiting her to the prestigious institution. Reported the Boston Heraldin April in its first story on Warren’s ancestry claim: “Harvard Law professor Charles Fried, a former U.S. Solicitor General who served under Ronald Reagan, sat on the appointing committee that recommended Warren for hire in 1995. He said he didn’t recall her Native American heritage ever coming up during the hiring process.

    “‘It simply played no role in the appointments process. It was not mentioned and I didn’t mention it to the faculty,’ he said.”

    He repeated himself this week, telling the Herald: “In spite of conclusive evidence to the contrary, the story continues to circulate that Elizabeth Warren enjoyed some kind of affirmative action leg-up in her hiring as a full professor by the Harvard Law School. The innuendo is false.”

    “I can state categorically that the subject of her Native American ancestry never once was mentioned,” he added.

    That view was echoed by Law School Professor Laurence H. Tribe, who voted to tenure Warren and was also involved in recruiting her.

    “Elizabeth Warren’s heritage had absolutely no role in the decision to recruit her to Harvard Law School,” he told the Crimson. “Our decision was entirely based on her extraordinary expertise and legendary teaching ability. This whole dispute is fabricated out of whole cloth and has no connection to reality.”

    It’s true that Warren’s claim to have Native American ancestry is questionable. (See the article for details.) But there’s no evidence that she made the story up. Like millions of other Americans (and it’s particularly common in Oklahoma, where she’s from), she carries family lore of a Native American background. It’s extremely common, and it’s unfair to accuse Warren or anyone else who has such stories and accepts them as true of having committed fraud or pretending to be someone they’re not. As the article notes:

    But a lack of Native ancestry despite the family stories she’s heard all her life would also be consistent with one of the most common genealogical myths in the United States.

    “Many more Americans believe they have Native ancestry than actually do (we always suspected this, but can now confirm it through genetic testing),” said Smolenyak in an email. “In fact, in terms of wide-spread ancestral myths, this is one of the top two (the other being those who think their names were changed at Ellis Island). And someone who hails from Oklahoma would be even more prone to accept a tale of Native heritage than most.”

    She added: “There’s also a tendency to accept what our relatives (especially our elders) tell us.”

    As for Warren, “I can’t confirm or refute Cherokee heritage without extensive research,” she said. “All I can say is that Ms. Warren’s scenario is a wildly common one — minus the public scrutiny, of course.”




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  21. Tyrell says:

    Senator Warren has come down hard on some of the banks and investment houses, but has given the Federal Reserve a pass.




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  22. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    it’s particularly common in Oklahoma, where she’s from

    Seriously. My granny, born in Indian Territory in 1904, was white as a ghost but spoke a little Cherokee. My cousin still believes we have some ancestor on the Dawes rolls, a claim I find quite dubious.

    The worst part of this whole thing is the idea that one can get some kind of special privileges –Harvard admission– for being a Native American and that is complete and utter bullshit.




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  23. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce: It’s not just whites who have these stories:

    [M]ost of the nine black celebrities who underwent genetic testing for the PBS documentary African American Lives believed they were part Native American.

    One of those tested, Oprah Winfrey, 52, says on the program that to many African-Americans in her generation, being “a little Indian” was desirable. The two-part documentary…says genetic testing revealed that only two of the nine celebrities tested — Winfrey and comedian-actor Chris Tucker — likely had Native American ancestors.

    It’s interesting to me that for both whites and blacks, having Native American ancestors is seen as desirable, but for whites having African ancestry is typically treated as a shameful secret (and not just to the average white supremacist leader dumb enough to get his DNA tested). It’s evident that a large percentage of white Americans have some black ancestry and don’t know it.




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  24. george says:

    @Kylopod:

    Its more interesting to me that having a touch of Native American ancestry is seen as a good thing, but to actually be Native American is seen being as ‘bad’ as, or ‘worse’ than, being black – and in almost every category, including the prized title of being most likely to be killed by a cop.




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  25. george says:

    In terms of Warren, I’d much rather of had her running as the Democratic Party nomination than Sanders or Clinton (Trump of course is off the scale). But I agree its time for a new generation. One of the (many) things I liked about Obama was his relative youth.

    In terms of her not showing much interest in the Presidency – its 2018, the election is in 2020. Why is it even a question at this point? Plenty of time to think about that after the 2018 mid-terms.




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  26. James Joyner says:

    @george:

    In terms of her not showing much interest in the Presidency – its 2018, the election is in 2020. Why is it even a question at this point? Plenty of time to think about that after the 2018 mid-terms.

    Because the term she’s running for starts in January 2019 and doesn’t end until January 2025.

    Technically speaking, Hillary didn’t announce until April 12, 2015 and Trump not until June 16, 2015. But Hillary had a standing machine and had long since lined up money and superdelegates and Trump was, well, Trump.




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  27. John430 says:

    @Kylopod: The legitimacy of Warren’s claims to Native American heritage has certainly been challenged by many critics, and it is true that while Warren was at U. Penn. Law School she put herself on the “Minority Law Teacher” list as Native American) in the faculty directory of the Association of American Law Schools, and that Harvard Law School at one time promoted Warren as a Native American faculty member.

    However, claiming to have Native American ancestry (but refusing to take a saliva DNA test) is akin to EVERY Englishman and Irishman claiming to have a nobleman’s coat of arms.




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  28. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    It’s evident that a large percentage of white Americans have some black ancestry and don’t know it.

    Americans with Italian ancestry almost certainly would, especially those with ancestors from the south of Italy and from Sicily.




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  29. teve tory says:

    It’s interesting to me that for both whites and blacks, having Native American ancestors is seen as desirable, but for whites having African ancestry is typically treated as a shameful secret (and not just to the average white supremacist leader dumb enough to get his DNA tested). It’s evident that a large percentage of white Americans have some black ancestry and don’t know it.

    It is hilarious when that happens.

    Once or twice I’ve seen Stormfront-type white supremacists get DNA tests to prove how pure they were, only to have the results come back like

    70% german
    10% polish
    12% african
    8% jewish

    And everybody freaks out and sometimes they get disowned by the other nazi shitheads. That tickles my Liberal Snob© heart.




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  30. Mister Bluster says:

    The legitimacy of Warren’s claims to Native American heritage has certainly been challenged by many critics,..

    President Pud is a lying machine.
    But none of his falsehoods seem to bother you and your ilk.
    However I’m sure you will agree that despite his penchant to prevaricate we can believe that his bloviations about pussy grabbing are true!

    Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.




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  31. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    Americans with Italian ancestry almost certainly would, especially those with ancestors from the south of Italy and from Sicily.

    There does seem to be a long-time folk idea that people from Southern Italy and Sicily have some black ancestry. There’s the scene from Do the Right Thing where Mookie taunts John Turturro’s racist character by telling him, “You know what they say about dark Italians?” Then there’s the classic scene from True Romance:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3yon2GyoiM

    From what I’ve read, DNA studies indicate that a lot of people from Southern Europe (not just Italians) have something like 2% Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Ashkenazi Jews have more, and Sephardi Jews even more than that.

    In terms of Americans, a while back there was a report that genealogical studies had revealed that Obama’s white mother–whose family was primarily Anglo and Irish–was descended from the first black slave in America.




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  32. James Pearce says:

    @John430:

    refusing to take a saliva DNA test

    I’d refuse too. That’s invasive AF. “You want to go into my mouth and then look at my DNA?”

    Hell, I don’t want anyone looking through my windows.

    @Kylopod:

    It’s evident that a large percentage of white Americans have some black ancestry and don’t know it.

    And vice versa. It gets even weirder when you factor in the Neanderthal DNA found in some people of European descent…




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  33. george says:

    @James Joyner:

    That makes sense, I missed it somehow.




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  34. JohnMcC says:

    @James Pearce: When I read about the ‘northern european’ genotype being distinguished by it’s claim to a Neanderthal contribution I thought how in some people’s minds that went along with the Wagnerian music and Norse gods. I’ve never looked into it to confirm that notion, but I betcha.




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  35. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod: I recently read that there’s significant presence of hemoglobin S (sickle cell) in Sicilians:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/103355

    As an approach to investigating the origin of sickle cell hemoglobin (hemoglobin S) in white persons of Sicilian ancestry, two groups of native Sicilians were tested for blood group evidence of African admixture. Among 100 unrelated Sicilians, the phenotypes cDe(Rho) and Fy(a-b-), and the antigens V(hrv) and Jsa, which are considered to be African genetic markers, were detected in 12 individuals. Among 64 individuals from 21 families with at least one known hemoglobin S carrier, African blood group markers were detected in 7 (11%).




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  36. John430 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Stay on topic, fool!




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  37. Tyrell says:

    @george: No. The last thing the Democratic party needs is a north east ultra liberal running it. The party needs to get back to its traditional values and represent the middle class, working people. It needs to return to its southern heritage: the Southern Democrat party.




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  38. John430 says:

    At this point, Warren’s only a degree away from being another Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who passed as African-American while becoming a local NAACP official.




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  39. Kylopod says:

    @John430:

    At this point, Warren’s only a degree away from being another Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who passed as African-American while becoming a local NAACP official.

    There’s absolutely no comparison there. Dolezal lied about who her parents were and changed her hair and appearance to help herself pass for African American. There isn’t a shred of evidence that Warren lied about anything in her life. She did what millions of other Americans do, which was accept information about her family roots that was passed down to her by older relatives. As the geneologist quoted in the article I linked to pointed out, “Many more Americans believe they have Native ancestry than actually do.” How is that comparable to knowingly falsifying one’s past?




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  40. John430 says:

    @Kylopod: There isn’t a shred of evidence that Warren lied about anything in her life.

    Then after that she walked upon the waters.




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  41. Kylopod says:

    @John430:

    Then after that she walked upon the waters.

    The scary thing is that you actually think that was a devastating comeback.




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  42. John430 says:

    @Kylopod: Nah, it was just a snark. The scary thing is that you had to parse it.




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  43. Kylopod says:

    @John430: I wasn’t “parsing” anything. I was simply observing that you’re so pathetically oblivious to the fact that your argument was destroyed that you think you’re getting the upper hand with lame, witless snark.

    You have no answers to people’s counterarguments, but because you retain the unshakable conviction that your views are simply true by default and that everything we say is simply laughable libtard noise, you don’t even notice when you’ve been refuted.

    This is the sickness that is modern American conservatism. You have no idea how to defend your views against challenges but have been brainwashed so thoroughly that you think you’re winning every argument, because your mind is sealed off from any other possibility.




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