Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren took the stage together on Monday in front of a sign reading “stronger together,” united more than anything else by a common enemy.
Making their first joint appearance since the Massachusetts senator endorsed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee earlier this month, Warren demonstrated her value to Clinton's campaign with a direct appeal to the party's liberal wing and a scathing attack on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Warren, a potential running mate for Clinton, called Trump a “small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one but himself.” But she also sought to assure the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders' strong Democratic primary run that Clinton will represent their interests.
“Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States because she knows what it takes to beat a thin-skinned bully who is driven by greed and hate,” Warren told more than 2,000 people gathered in the cavernous Art Deco half-dome of Cincinnati’s old Union Terminal. “She doesn't whine. She doesn't run to Twitter to call her opponents fat pigs or dummies. No, she just remembers who really needs someone on their side. And she gets up and keeps right on fighting for the people who need her most.”
Clinton showered her own praise on Warren’s ability to stand up to Trump. “I must say I do just love to see how she gets under Donald Trump's thin skin,” she said. “As Elizabeth made clear, Donald Trump proves every day he's not in it for the American people, he's in it only for himself. And Elizabeth reminds us of that every chance she gets because it is really important that voters here in Ohio and voters across America understand this. She exposes him for what he is.”
They both also chastised Trump's response to the U.K. vote to leave the European Union, arguing it's a reminder of his singular focus on himself and no one else. “Trump cheered on Britain’s current crisis which has sucked billions of dollars out of your retirement accounts because, he said, hey, it might bring more rich people to his new golf course,” Warren said.
Trump “tried to turn a global economic challenge into an infomercial,” Clinton said.
Though Clinton won the primary, she made clear on Monday that she is continuing to campaign for support from liberals by backing progressive ideas like boosting the minimum wage, tightening rules on Wall Street, and raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
“I got into this race because I wanted to even the odds for people who have the odds stacked against them,” Clinton said. “This is not a time for half measures. To build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we have got to go big and we have got to go bold.”
The Clinton campaign sees Warren as a key ambassador to Sanders supporters and others liberals, one who can argue that Clinton is more than just the lesser of two evils. In a Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters conducted earlier this month, 55 percent of those surveyed who supported Sanders planned to vote for Clinton, while 22 percent said they would cast their votes for Trump and another 18 percent said they favor Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Americans are “angry that friends and neighbors right here in Ohio lost their jobs and their homes when Wall Street wrecked our economy. Angry that instead of sending people to jail, Washington gave bankers a bailout. Now your pensions are in trouble and Washington won't lift a finger to help,” Warren said, with Clinton nodding over her shoulder. “That's not right and we're here to change it. We're here to change it.”
While the pair were closely synchronized in their message on Monday, that hasn’t always been the case.
Warren has criticized Clinton for changing her position on a bill that would have made it more difficult for individuals to discharge their debt in bankruptcy. Warren saw it as an instance when Clinton was influenced by Wall Street lobbyists and donors in 2004. “The pressures are very different” for Clinton in the senate as opposed to her time as first lady, Warren told PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2004. “She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.”
Warren has also tweaked former President Bill Clinton for overseeing an era of Wall Street deregulation at the end of his administration, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Warren and Sanders support a modernized version of the law, while Clinton resists it, arguing that it’s not the right antidote to the problems she sees in the financial sector
Still, speculation about Clinton’s potential running mate always include mentions of Warren as a short-lister, even though people who understand Clinton privately acknowledge the senator was unlikely to make it onto the ticket.
Keeping her name in play gives the left—including some Sanders supporters—hope, while also elevating her stature. But the Clintons—Bill, especially—have long been wary of Warren and their relationship with her has never been particularly warm, making difficult the kind of close working relationship she wants to have with her running mate and, more importantly, vice president.