U.S. Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren, Calling for Middle Class Revival, Swings Through Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — Only hours after declaring her intention to challenge Republican Scott Brown in the 2012 U.S. Senate race, Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren made a swing through Springfield on Wednesday to greet supporters and speak with the press.
Warren, a former Obama administration official and fierce critic of the banking industry, said that America’s middle class has been in decline for the past 30 years.
“Washington is rigged against the middle class. Right now it’s rigged for big corporate interests that can hire an army of lobbyists — and the middle class just can’t take this anymore.”
When asked by a reporter from CBS3 in Springfield if her credentials as a Harvard professor might prevent her from relating to struggling families, Warren said that her politics spring from first-hand experience.
“I grew up hanging on to the middle class by my fingernails,” she said. “My family kind of bumped around economically; I started babysitting at nine and waiting tables at thirteen; I got married at nineteen and had a baby by the time I was twenty-two…. Yes, now I have a fancy job at Harvard… but I wasn’t born there.”
Warren grew up in Oklahoma, where her father worked as a janitor and maintenance man.
She said that she has fought for the middle class her entire life, and would make that her top priority in the Senate.
As for the growing problem of poverty in America, as documented in census data released last week, Warren said that the interests of the poor and the middle class are closely aligned today.
“When we have a strong and robust middle class — when we have a middle class that’s growing — then there’s room; there are paths out of poverty,” she said.
In 2008 Warren was named chair of the congressional panel that oversaw the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. During that time, she was a harsh critic of the U.S. Treasury department, and called for greater accountability and transparency in the way bailout monies were spent. In 2010 she was chosen by President Obama to help create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but her nomination to head that bureau was eventually blocked by Senate Republicans.
Warren faces seven declared challengers in the Democratic primary, including City Year founder Alan Khazei, activist Bob Massie, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren.
Brown became U.S. Senator after upsetting Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley in a January 19, 2010 special election following the death of Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who had held the seat since 2006.
“It’s time to return a Democrat from Massachusetts to the Senate,” said Northampton resident Joel Spiro, one of about 100 gathered at the Student Prince restaurant to meet with Warren. “And I have no doubt — I’m confident that she will win.”
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