Politics Analysis: Warren still growing into front-runner status
Warren stands by account of being pushed out of her first teaching job
In an exclusive interview, the presidential candidate responds to questions raised about the veracity of her story about why she left her first teaching jobIn an exclusive interview with CBS News on Monday evening, Warren said she stands by her characterizations of why she left the job.
WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The question was inevitable. Elizabeth Warren's answer was the same. And her rivals seized on it.
Elizabeth Warren vows to remake capitalism. Businesses are bracing.
The Democratic party’s favored presidential candidate has proposed sweeping changes to how business operates, beyond what previous front-runners sought. Many executives bet she would tack toward the center.Elizabeth Warren promises to break that mold. The Massachusetts senator, who has moved to the front ranks of the field, talks of remaking capitalism from the ground up. As president, she would drastically cut back the size and influence of big business, push private companies from parts of the economy altogether, and shift power to government and to labor.
For the second consecutive debate, Warren refused to say whether middle-class Americans would pay higher taxes under her proposed Medicare for All plan. It was a glaring dodge for a candidate who has risen to the top of the Democratic field by unveiling detailed policy proposals and selling them with a folksy flair.
And it was one of nearly a half a dozen issues where Warren found herself defending the broad ambition she has laid out to remake the American economy and rebalance the nation's wealth. More moderate candidates, including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, cast Warren as both unrealistic and vague.
How Warren handles that criticism, which was abundant Tuesday and is likely to escalate in the coming weeks, will be a central test of whether she can maintain her standing.
Will Warren Have a Bull’s-eye on Her Back in the Ohio Debate?
Various rivals have reasons to hope the new co-front-runner stumbles. But are any of them willing to risk being the one to give her a push?After the last Democratic presidential-candidates debate in Houston on September 12, I adjudged the event as having little impact on the dynamics of the race. Sure, some candidates may have marginally helped themselves (Elizabeth Warren, as always, and probably Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Beto O’Rourke) and others may have hurt themselves (Julián Castro and Kamala Harris). But the overall dominance of the field by the Big Three (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Warren) was undisturbed.
"Warren has done a good job at remaining steady despite the arrows in her direction, but she is still missing answers to core questions about her plans," said Bill Burton, a Democratic strategist who worked for former President Barack Obama.
While Warren has surged into the upper tier of candidates with former Vice President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, her liberal, government-funded policies have become subject to added scrutiny, prompting concerns about whether her views are out of the mainstream and would imperil Democrats' chances in the general election against President Donald Trump.
Warren's more moderate Democratic rivals sought to make that case aggressively in Tuesday's debate.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke suggested she was too focused on tearing people down. New York businessman Andrew Yang said her signature wealth tax has failed across Europe. Biden said she was being vague on the cost of her signature plans.
Top moments from Tuesday's Democratic debate
Tuesday's debate in the key battleground state of Ohio was the first opportunity for Democratic candidates to gather on stage since the announcement of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.The focus shifted from former Vice President Biden to Sen. Elizabeth Warren for attacks from 2020 rivals, which is surely in response to her mounting support in national polls. As with previous debates, personal attacks were on display despite some calls for civility.
Video provided by CNN
Indeed, it was her refusal to clarify how she would pay for her government overhaul of health care that drew the most sustained criticism from a range of candidates.
"Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything but this," said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "I don't understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable insurance to everybody is to obliterate private plans."
Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar said Warren's obfuscating was all the more obvious because Bernie Sanders — whose Medicare for All bill Warren supports — has conceded that middle-class taxes would go up, though he contends the increases would be offset by lower health care costs.
"At least Bernie's being honest here," Klobuchar said. "I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that. We owe it to the American people."
Again and again, Warren fell back to a practiced line, promising overall costs wouldn't go up on the middle class.
7 highlights from the Democratic debate
Polls show that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination. And on Tuesday night in Ohio, her 11 rivals acted like it. © Maddie McGarvey for CNN Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang participate in the Democratic debate co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times in Westerville, Ohio, on Tuesday, October 15. The party's fourth presidential debate, hosted by CNN and The New York Times, showcased the shifting dynamics of the Democratic primary.
"Costs will go down," she insisted over and over.
Warren's advisers insist overall health care costs are the more salient issue at play and grouse that focusing on the policy's impact on taxes is an oversimplification.
Yet Warren's resistance to spelling out what taxes would look like under her proposal suggests she sees political risk — both in the primary and in a general election — in going on the record in favoring a tax hike.
Republicans quickly pounced on her repeated sidestepping in Tuesday's debate.
"Elizabeth Warren is lying. Period," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted. "Taxes would go up on EVERYONE to fund this socialist government takeover of health care. Bernie admits it. Why can't she?"
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Trump has used Warren's and Sanders' liberal positions to cast the entire Democratic field as socialists, seeking to appeal to moderate Republicans and independents who may be turned off by the president but are wary of pricey, government-run policies.
Trump's campaign flew a banner over the Ohio debate that read: "Socialism destroys Ohio jobs. Vote Trump."
The pressure on Warren from within her own party reflects a broader challenge for Democrats as they work through the messy process of unifying behind one candidate to take on Trump next year. Many Democratic voters like her calls for big, bold ideas. But they fear she might be too liberal to attract the broad coalition needed to deny Trump a second term.
Warren's allies concede that her campaign is a work in progress.
"Elizabeth Warren was treated like the frontrunner," said Adam Green, a top Warren supporter and co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, adding that she showed strength in the face of aggressive attacks.
He added, "I expect those skills to be more on display in future debates as she grows into a front-runner status."
Editor's Note: Chief political writer Steve Peoples has covered presidential politics for the AP since 2011. Follow him at
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has more work to do to earn the Latino community vote .
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has work to do with the Latino community as she rises as a 2020 frontrunner. Thursday she met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “It's very smart for her to do this now... these are all good signals that she's moving in that right direction,” pollster Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions. “She’s hopefully getting advice from them, and then hopefully she implements it.” That advice, Barreto says, centering the issues important to Latinos in her platform - and ensuring they have more than a token seat at the table within her campaign.
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