- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2020

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sen. Elizabeth Warren has lost a bit of luster in the eyes of liberal progressives a week out from the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa, where Sen. Bernard Sanders is on the rise and winning the battle for far-left supremacy.

The turning point for many of left-leaning voters came in the fall when Ms. Warren softened her stance on “Medicare for All.” Things soured more after her public feud this month with Mr. Sanders, the granddaddy of the party’s revolutionary Democratic socialist wing.

“I am pretty pissed off about what happened,” said Julie VanDyke, who plans on backing Mr. Sanders. “As angry as I was I honestly was just disappointed. I expected her to be better than that.”

Ms. Warren’s accusation that Mr. Sanders said a woman could not win the presidency seemed to backfire on the Massachusetts Democrat — at least in the Twitterverse.

There also has been grousing on the ground here over her prior claims of Native American heritage, and her GOP past, as well as her support for President Trump’s first defense budget and her decision to stand and applaud when the president vowed in his State of the Union address last year that the United State will “never be a socialist country.”



“Yes, she’s tarnished,” Ms. VanDyke said.

A New York Times/Sienna College poll released over the weekend showed since the fall, Mr. Sanders, and Ms. Warren are moving in opposite directions ahead of the Feb 3 caucuses.

Buoyed by strong support from young voters and liberal progressives, Mr. Sanders climbed six points to lead the field at 25%. Ms. Warren dropped seven points to 15%, putting her behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 18%, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, 17%.

A day earlier, Warren campaign manager Roger Lau blasted out a memo seeking to tamp down expectations in Iowa.

“We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins,” Mr. Lau said.

Some good news arrived for Ms. Warren in the form of the prized endorsement by The Des Moines Register on Saturday. The paper assured readers that Ms. Warren is “not the radical some perceive her to be” by pointing out she was a member of the GOP through 1996 and “she is a capitalist.”

How much that helps, however, is unclear. Mr. Sanders and his call for a left-wing political revolution missed beating establishment favorite Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Iowa caucuses by less than 1%.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders entered the nomination battle fighting for similar turf and running on like-minded visions, championing Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college, and raising taxes on the rich to pay for their “bold” plans.

Playing off her “I Got a Plan for That” slogan, Ms. Warren has been betting she can appeal to the left wing of the party and be more palatable than Mr. Sanders to center-left voters — particularly women who were left feeling they had some unfinished business after Ms. Clinton’s loss.

But Mr. Sanders, who urged Ms. Warren to run for president in 2015 before entering the last race, has had more luck convincing the party’s left-wing with his “Not Me, Us” message and his focus on creating a grassroots movement that he says will be necessary for fundamental change.

He got a boost from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and liberal filmmaker and activist Michael Moore over the weekend.

They urged voters to recognize that Democrats lose elections and policy debates when they play it safe, and win when they take political risks.

“The 1%, when they woke up to the news that he is ahead, they must have had a very hard time getting through breakfast,” Mr. Moore said at a campaign stop in Storm Lake.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, said Mr. Sanders was fighting for a far-left vision before it was politically fashionable.

“I don’t think politics should be like pop music where you reinvent yourself every four years,” the 30-year-old freshman member of Congress said at another stop in Perry.

“What is so impressive about Sen. Sanders is he has fought for the most marginalized people whose rights have been most controversial his entire life,” she said. “He has not become a progressive now because it is cool. He did it when he was sacrificing his career.”

The New York Times/Sienna College survey showed 43% of “very liberal” voters were backing him and that 48% of voters say he remains their first love in the Feb. 3 caucuses after backing him four years ago.

“Why settle for something else, why compromise when you still have the best thing available?” said Brandon Kennelly of Ames. “When you look at Bernie he has been honest and trustworthy his entire career. You can watch videos of him from the ‘80s and he is saying the same things on stage that he is saying now.”

The 29-year-old said it seemed that Ms. Warren switched up her game plan after she recognized she was struggling to pick up Sanders‘ supporters from 2016.

“I feel like Elizabeth Warren went more centrist with her policies to maybe distance herself [from Mr. Sanders] since she didn’t pick up our vote,” the 29-year-old said. “She said she was a ‘capitalist to her bones’ and a lot of Bernie supporters are looking for more socialist programs,” he said.

Polls from NBC News and CNN also found Mr. Sanders leading in New Hampshire — a state that he easily carried over Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and Ms. Warren running fourth behind Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg, who were duking it out for second place.

Sanders‘ advantage is bolstered by his strong support among progressive Democrats and younger voters,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the NBC News survey.

Ms. Warren entered the race all-in for Medicare for All, but dialed things back in November, announcing she would first push for a public option and later on return to a push for Medicare for All.

Derek Johnk, a 35-year-old Democratic voter, said he started the 2020 cycle supporting Ms. Warren but swung his support behind Mr. Sanders because of the Vermont senator’s steadfast support for Medicare for All, which he said was his top concern.

And when Ms. Warren insisted in the October debate that “I don’t have a beef with billionaires,” alarm bells went off for Mr. Johnk.

“Bernie said, ‘Well, I do,’ ” Mr. Johnk said. “That’s when I’m like, ‘OK, there is a sliver of difference between the two.’ They are both great candidates. He just beats her by a nose.”

The final straw for other liberals came in the last presidential debate when the nonaggression pact between Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren went kaput over her claim that he told her a woman couldn’t win the presidency.

Ms. Warren used the moment to make the case for a female president by arguing that the men debating had collectively lost 10 elections, while the women had won “every single election” they had run in.

Ms. Warren’s liberal critics slammed her social media accounts with snake emojis and snake memes. Soon the hashtag #WarrenIsASnake was trending.

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