Elizabeth Warren declares her 2020 intentions... sort of

Suddenly it seems as if Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and a bunch of other Democratic 2020 hopefuls can breathe a sigh of relief. Making the round of cable news shows for the umpteenth time this weekend, Massachusetts junior Senator Elizabeth Warren decided to answer the big question once and for all. (Sort of) Will she be running for President to unseat Donald Trump? As reported today in the Washington Times, she gave a clear, concise and almost (but not really) definitive answer. First the video from NBC News where she’s talking to “Sleepy” Chuck Todd. (Sorry, Chuck… couldn’t resist.)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, said repeatedly Sunday that she is not running for president in 2020, but demurred when asked if she would serve the full six years if reelected in November.

“So look: I am not running for President of the United States. I am running for the United States Senate in 2018 Massachusetts, whoo-hoo,” Ms. Warren said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety particularly on the Democratic side about how we are going to deal with Donald Trump in 2020,” she added.

At the same time, she deflected when asked if she would complete her full Senate term if she wins reelection.

So there you have it, right? She’s not running. She just said so and you heard it for yourself. The only problem is that we’ve heard this before, both from Warren and others who have been in her position over the years. It’s carefully crafted political phrasing. Saying, “I am not running” is a statement in the present tense and simply means that she’s not running today. That’s worth even less than saying, I have no intentions to run at this time. Whether the condition of “being running” changes next year remains up for debate.

She goes on to say, “I am in this fight to retain my Senate seat in 2018, that’s where I’m focused, that’s where I’m going to stay focused, I’m not running for president.” Yes. So from now until early November, she will be running to keep her Senate seat. What happens after the holidays is anybody’s guess. And you’ll note that when she’s asked if she will serve out her term if reelected, she demures, only repeating, “I am not running for President.”

Do you doubt that a Senator would pull such a linguistic trick? Look no further than Hillary Clinton. Back in 2006, Clinton said the exact same things. She wanted to be elected to another term as Senator and both her Republican opponent and the New York media were asking if she would finish her term. She refused to give a straight answer, simply saying that she was running for the Senate. Of course, she later went on to jump into the 2008 primary and, after losing, still bailed out on her job to take Barack Obama’s Secretary of State offer.

What Warren said this weekend was a non-answer and the usual, deceptive verbal dancing of politicians everywhere. It means nothing and we shouldn’t be basing any of our political calculations on those comments.