Elizabeth Warren launches three day tour of Iowa, crowds appear

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is pushing full steam ahead in her moment in the sun. She is spending the weekend in Iowa and she is drawing some attention along the way. She hasn’t formally announced her candidacy in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary but she has declared the formation of an exploratory committee and that’s the first step in the process. She’s all alone in jumping into the contest so why shouldn’t she begin courting the people who will be voting in the nation’s first caucuses? Her only competition right now is a former Maryland congressman that no one knows and well, c’mon. John Delaney has visited all 99 counties in Iowa. Warren has some catching up to do.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, there is actually some early excitement amongst Democrats for Warren’s candidacy. I thought her end of the year announcement of her intention to get into the race was dreadful. She’s trying way too hard to prove she’s as likable and folksy as your next door neighbor. She even included her husband and their dog along the way. What struck me, though, was how stiff she and her husband were as they spoke to each other in that weird Instagram video. They’ve been married over 30 years yet she’s formally thanking him for “being here”. I don’t know, it was just stiff. The awkward exchange over the beer was just weird. “Enjoy your beer.” Who talks like that?

Warren has snapped up some former Clinton and Obama people, along with former Bernie people. I hope none of them are responsible for the misfire of her launch. Those who are touted as “knowing” Iowa see “something special in Elizabeth Warren”. Really?

“That she was able to hire some top-tier folks while having a really challenging month tells you something,” Rebecca Katz, a progressive strategist and former aide to retired Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, told CNN. Those staffers “know Iowa better than anyone and they know that there’s some magic there. The people who actually know Iowa understand that it’s a long game and they understand who actually connects in a living room. And they see something special in Elizabeth Warren.”

That slate also now includes Obama’s former chief digital strategist, Joe Rospars, who had a lead role on both of the former president’s campaigns. Rospars will oversee Warren’s grass-roots mobilization, national operations and planning in the early states, according to two sources familiar with the staffing moves. Warren has also recruited Richard McDaniel, the former field and political director for Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones and senior adviser to the young progressive Randall Woodfin’s mayoral campaign in Birmingham.

Who thought this creepy little clip on Twitter was a good idea?

She hasn’t really put forth anything new in her speeches and television appearances so far. If you’ve heard her before, you’re up to speed. She’s all about bashing corporations (who employ people) and big money campaign contributions. She goes heavy on promoting class warfare and the usual Democrat talking points against guns, against tax cuts, and for abortion. She stresses it’s a “dangerous” time for our country. I think her real problem is, yes, likeability. She’s got a Hillary problem.

Elizabeth Warren doesn’t conjure up warm and fuzzy thoughts when her name is mentioned. She comes off cold and detached, just like Hillary Clinton. The beer drinking on camera came off as phony because she’s more easily identified as an Ivy League chardonnay swilling Baby Boomer than a regular Jane stopping by the convenience store for a six-pack on the way home. She’d be a lot more authentic if she just relaxed and stopped trying so hard. Lefty feminists complain about female candidates having to clear the likeability factor but that’s just reality. Men candidates have to be likable, too. I don’t see it as a gender-specific issue. Candidates do have to be seen as approachable and someone with whom the voter would like to have a drink with.

The field is about to get a bit more crowded. Former Clinton HHS Secretary Julian Castro is going to make his announcement on January 12 – yeah, he’s running – and he’s heading to Iowa, too. Trump impeachment fanatic and billionaire Tom Steyer heads to Iowa next week and Senator Kamala Harris begins a book tour in her home state of California. Something notable about the 2020 Democrat primary is that Warren won’t be the only woman running. Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Kirstin Gillibrand are also considering it.

Warren provoked former Rep. Trey Gowdy for no apparent reason Friday as she falsely accused him of retiring from Congress to become a lobbyist. The attack was meant to point out the revolving door from the halls of Congress to high power lobbying firms, as she does, but she badly misfired on this one. Gowdy is returning to practicing law, his previous career, not becoming a lobbyist. Talk about an unforced error. Warren has to get better than this to stay viable if she is in the first place.

She should enjoy it while she can. She’s drawing crowds interested and curious to hear from her. That’s the first hurdle to clear. Democrat voters are anxious to get going and find a candidate to challenge President Trump. In Council Bluffs, she reportedly drew a crowd of 500. Only 300 fit into the venue but 200 people gathered outside. Will she overcome the phony claims of American Indian heritage? Are the voters in the Midwest ready for an east coast liberal woman who is less than comfortable in her own skin? Time will tell.

The senator began her three-day tour of the state just across the border from Nebraska, in a humble bar and grill that held a crowded group of supporters and intrigued voters in a standing room, plus a large group standing outside in the weather — luckily, a balmy temperature for Iowa in the winter.

I’m excited about 2019 and the coming field of Democrats with visions of a presidential primary run. Republicans can enjoy the show as Democrats did in 2016 with the large field of Republicans running. Keep the popcorn handy and watch the kid gloves come off. It’s going to be fun.