“In almost 20 years of doing this, I’ve never felt like we’re in a moment like we are now,” said Anne Caprara, a senior advisor for the Priorities USA Action super PAC and a veteran Democratic campaign operative. “This is the moment in history. People will look back and ask what you did, and there’s a real palpable recognition of that among elected officials.”
The urgency of the moment is not lost on the party’s leading 2020 hopefuls. Many of them — including Warren and fellow Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris — abandoned their schedules last weekend to appear at protests in their home states or in Washington, grasping the imperative to be both public and distinctive in their opposition to Trump’s executive order on refugee travel. Then Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand, and Booker voted against approving Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation, one of Trump’s least controversial picks and an unmistakable thumb in the eye of Chao’s husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“People will say, ‘Where were you when he appointed Jeff Sessions? Where were you when he picked a Supreme Court justice?’ That will be a real question in primaries, and I wouldn’t want to the the candidate on the wrong side of that,” said longtime strategist Bob Shrum, warning of the importance of public resistance in a week where Democratic senators began boycotting votes on Trump picks altogether.