Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s past party affiliation circled back on the campaign trail this week.
Fans of the 2020 Democratic presidential contender may be surprised to know that the Massachusetts senator was registered as a Republican for many years in her not so distant past.
That bit of history was alluded to this week at an event for Warren’s 2020 rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“He is not someone who used to be a Republican,” Oscar-winning actress and activist Susan Sarandon said while introducing the Vermont Independent in Iowa.
“He is not someone who used to take money, or still takes money, from Wall Street. He is the real deal,” she said.
Though Sarandon, an outspoken Sanders supporter, did not mention Warren by name, it seemed to be a clear dig at the 70-year-old senator who was born in Oklahoma and was registered with the GOP until 1996 when she was in her late 40’s, before moving to Massachusetts to teach at Harvard Law School.
Warren, who began her political career in her sixties, told The Daily Beast in 2017 about her switch.
“I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets,” she said. “I think that is not true anymore. I was a Republican at a time when I felt like there was a problem that the markets were under a lot more strain. It worried me whether or not the government played too activist a role.”
She told Politico in April that she “sometimes voted for Democrats, sometimes voted for Republicans — but never thought of myself, never had to frame myself, in political terms.”
Policies in the George W. Bush administration apparently prompted Warren’s shift away from the GOP, as she told ABC News in 2014.
“I was an independent. I was with the GOP for a while because I really thought that it was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets. And I feel like the GOP party just left that. They moved to a party that said, ‘No, it’s not about a level playing field. It’s now about a field that’s gotten tilted.’ And they really stood up for the big financial institutions when the big financial institutions are just hammering middle class American families,” she said. “I just feel like that’s a party that moved way, way away.”
A national poll by The Economist/YouGov released last week showed Warren ahead of Sanders in the 2020 race, coming in at second with 20 percent with Sanders at 16 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden made the top position with a slight edge over Warren, polling at 21 percent support.
At a campaign rally in Minnesota on Monday, Warren encountered a fan who momentarily stole the spotlight from her.
Minnesota native Stephanie Oyen thought she would have some fun at the Macalester College event but hadn’t counted on being mistaken for the senator she so admired when she chose to dress just like her.
— California for Warren (@CA_for_Warren) August 20, 2019
“I thought it would get some giggles,” she told the Star Tribune. “Then people started yelling, ‘Senator Warren!’ People were clapping and running up to me to take photos. I kept saying ‘I’m not her!’ but I looked up and hundreds of people were staring at me.”
“It got weird very fast,” Oyen explained. “I talk with my hands and shake my head, which only made me look more like Elizabeth Warren. I was saying ‘I’m not her!’ but I could have been saying ‘Medicare for all!’ ”
Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren found herself taking selfies with her doppelganger during a rally in Minnesota. CNN’s Jeanne Moos reports. https://t.co/nKwmuzPpRj pic.twitter.com/vxavMQJ11B
— CNN (@CNN) August 21, 2019
She didn’t think her uncanny likeness to Warren was so convincing until people at the rally clamored to meet her and take photos.
“I’m not a prankster. I really thought people would know, but then they started running up and saying ‘You’re my hero!’ and taking photos. I felt so bad,” she said.
And when the opportunity came to meet Warren face-to-face, Oyen recalled how surreal it was.
“I couldn’t tell if she recognized I was dressed like her or if she thought, ‘Here’s a weird lady dressed like a stereotypical politician,’” she said, adding that the Democrat told her “We need to talk!” while noting her outfit.
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