- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2019

Feminists are excited about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s potential if she were tapped as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, predicting that she will prove a more relatable and better campaigner than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ms. Warren’s appeal came into the forefront during the debate in Houston last month when she spoke about child care and relying on her Aunt Bee, who moved in to help with her children, according to Nancy L. Cohen, author of “Breakthrough: The Making of America’s First Woman President.”

Noting women “still do the lion’s share of America’s child care,” Ms. Cohen highlighted the Massachusetts Democrat’s ability to bring that issue up during the debate.

“When a question about public education came up, she took it as an opportunity to talk about her plans to provide universal child care from birth, universal pre-K and raise wages for the overwhelmingly female child care workforce. Although several male candidates briefly mentioned universal pre-K, only Warren centered women in the discussion,” she wrote in Ms. Magazine last month.

And it’s relying on personal stories, like Aunt Bee, that helps Ms. Warren connect with the feminist base.

“She’s been trying to connect to women voters through telling her life story,” said Susan Carroll, a political science professor at Rutgers University. “It’s clear that she underwent a lot of experiences during her life.”

But the experts say it was Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy that helped pave the way for the Massachusetts Democrat’s success to date in the large 2020 Democratic field, where Ms. Warren has had a surge in recent weeks with some polls showing her besting her colleagues.

The former Harvard professor can pick off crucial swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that went for President Trump three years ago, feminists say, because the progressive lawmaker can effectively use her own background as a way to connect to everyday women.

“I do believe should Warren continue to have that kind of significant ground game that makes sure she is covering the bases in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. That is definitely the road to success,” said Nikol Alexander-Floyd, co-founder of the Association for the Study of Black Women in Politics, adding Ms. Warren’s focus is “policy-based, practical and populist.”

It was a region that spelled trouble for Mrs. Clinton, who lost those crucial states by thin margins to Mr. Trump. Critics say Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in particular overlooked Wisconsin, not even making a trip to the state before the general election.

Strong ground game

Ms. Warren, though, as a candidate is demonstrating a stronger ground game, able to draw out tens of thousands of voters at a single rally and more energetic interacting with voters than the previous Democratic presidential nominee.

Hillary’s campaign people [] often kept her away from crowds, not in the midst of crowds, where Elizabeth Warren is out there hours after she speaks,” said Ms. Carroll.

While 2016 became the year of golden escalators and blacked-out SUVs, Ms. Warren has taken a more relatable approach of descending into the streams of people, often spending three to four hours snapping post-rally selfies with supporters.

“It’s pretty clear she enjoys campaigning. I don’t think Hillary Clinton ever really did — I think Hillary Clinton enjoyed being part of government,” Ms. Carroll said.

Ms. Alexander-Floyd said Ms. Warren has the capability to restore protections for consumers, bring more transparency to the government and communicate hurdles related to free trade. The candidate’s past work in bankruptcy law and on middle-class economic issues will allow her to directly challenge the current administration’s trade war.

“She is able to take what are really abstract, very complex issues and break them down in such a way that everybody can understand them,” said Ms. Alexander-Floyd.

Abortion is another issue that’s on voters’ minds, which hasn’t come up much during the primary presidential debates, but Ms. Alexander-Floyd predicts it will gain momentum during the general election, with progressive voters concerned about the conservative-leaning majority on the Supreme Court overruling Roe v. Wade.

Ms. Carroll said the concerns over Roe’s endurance could mobilize young women voters, whom Mrs. Clinton had a tougher time reaching in 2016.

“With Elizabeth Warren, [] she has more of an appeal to those more progressive, younger women that she can mobilize them in a way that Hillary Clinton was not successful in doing,” she said.

Although most Democrats want someone other than Mr. Trump to be president, Ms. Carroll noted it is normal for women voters to want to see the glass ceiling broken with a woman elected to lead the United States.

But Virginia Sapiro, a political psychologist at Boston University, said there is no evidence women are looking to elect a woman candidate in particular, adding it’s “incredibly sexist” to compare Ms. Warren, who is near the top of the Democratic polls, to Mrs. Clinton.

The surge Ms. Warren has witnessed in recent weeks, Ms. Sapiro said, has come at the expense of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and to Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent.

“Every marginal bit will count in the primaries,” she said.

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