Repub­li­cans weigh at­tack­ing or ig­nor­ing War­ren over book tour

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Some con­ser­va­tives say it’s time to be­gin at­tack­ing Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, hop­ing to dent the lib­eral icon’s po­lit­i­cal as­cent as she be­gins a book tour widely seen as a test­ing ground for a 2020 pres­i­den­tial bid.

Repub­li­cans have been di­vided over how to han­dle Ms. War­ren, a first-term sen­a­tor from Mas­sachusetts and one of the Demo­cratic Party’s big­gest draws. Some prom­i­nent lead­ers have sought to boost her pro­file, fig­ur­ing she’d be an eas­ier op­po­nent to de­feat in 2020 than oth­ers.

But Amer­ica Ris­ing Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee says Ms. War­ren needs to be taken down a few pegs, so the group is be­gin­ning an ini­tia­tive to put her un­der the mi­cro­scope as she kicks off a tour in New York Tues­day for her lat­est book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Bat­tle to Save Amer­ica’s Mid­dle Class.”

“Our goal is to make sure there is a lot of neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion flowing around Sen. War­ren,” said Colin Reed, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Amer­ica Ris­ing PAC. “We view this book launch as the soft launch of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and what I don’t want is for her to have a 2018 re-elec­tion to the Se­nate that she then par­lays into the start of the pres­i­den­tial run with­out any road­blocks in her way.”

Ms. War­ren’s of­fice did not re­spond to an email seek­ing com­ment. But she has played down the idea that she is lay­ing the groundwork for a pres­i­den­tial bid.

She may also have some work to do in Mas­sachusetts, where she’s up for re­elec­tion next year, and where a Jan­uary poll re­leased by WBUR and The MassInc Polling Group found 46 per­cent said Ms. War­ren should give some­one else a chance to run, com­pared to 44 per­cent who said she de­served another six-year term.

The sen­a­tor, who suf­fered among some lib­er­als when she backed Hil­lary Clin­ton over Sen. Bernard San­ders in last year’s Demo­cratic pri­mary, may have helped pa­per over some of those con­cerns after tus­sling with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell in Fe­bru­ary.

Mr. McCon­nell had Ms. War­ren pun­ished for im­pugn­ing the mo­tives of then-Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, strip­ping her of her right to speak on the floor for the du­ra­tion of the de­bate over Mr. Ses­sions’ nom­i­na­tion to be at­tor­ney gen­eral. In the af­ter­math, Democrats ral­lied to Ms. War­ren, while GOP strate­gists de­bated whether it made sense to boost her pro­file or ig­nore her.

That de­bate con­tin­ues.

“By at­tack­ing her now, we’re giv­ing her ex­actly what she wants — more at­ten­tion and a height­ened plat­form at a time when there’s gen­eral dis­ar­ray and a lack of a clear voice in the Demo­cratic Party,” said Phil Cox, a GOP strate­gist and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Repub­li­can Gover­nors As­so­ci­a­tion. “I think the bet­ter strat­egy is to wait un­til we’re a bit closer to game time and then de­fine her. I mean, whether to­day or a year from now, it’s not go­ing to be too hard to make the case that El­iz­a­beth War­ren is a par­ti­san lib­eral.”

Mike McKenna, another GOP con­sul­tant, also said Repub­li­cans should in­vest their en­ergy else­where for now, ar­gu­ing that Ms. War­ren is her own worst en­emy.

“There are other politi­cians on the left that I am wor­ried about more than El­iz­a­beth War­ren,” Mr. McKenna said. “I am pretty firm in the camp of let her talk.”

He added, “She is a fairly un­happy, an­gry per­son, and that comes across ev­ery time she opens her mouth.”

Mr. Reed said his group has no in­ter­est in prop­ping Ms. War­ren up, and is re­viv­ing the same strat­egy they de­ployed against Mrs. Clin­ton, when they made the for­mer first lady’s 2014 book tour about her ver­bal gaffes, help­ing to tor­pedo the pos­i­tive im­age the Demo­crat aimed to build up.

“Our strat­egy is to go after her,” he said of Ms. War­ren. “It is not to make her the face of the Demo­cratic Party.”

The strat­egy in­cludes build­ing an op­po­si­tion re­search file against her, fol­low­ing her with video track­ers and mak­ing the case that Ms. War­ren’s pur­suit of ide­o­log­i­cal pu­rity has come at the ex­pense of her con­stituents and flies in the face of the more bi­par­ti­san ap­proach her Demo­cratic pre­de­ces­sor, Sen. Ed­ward M. Kennedy, took in Congress.

Ford O’Con­nell, a GOP strate­gist, said it is smart to at­tack Ms. War­ren be­cause it could set up a fa­vor­able con­trast for Pres­i­dent Trump, re­mind­ing vot­ers of the Demo­cratic al­ter­na­tive.

“She is al­ways great for boost­ing con­ser­va­tives who go crazy with the pos­si­bil­ity that she could go any­where near the White House,” Mr. O’Con­nell said. “Hil­lary Clin­ton used to won­der­fully fill that role for us. … You need to find some­one else, and El­iz­a­beth War­ren is the em­bod­i­ment of all [that] wings of the Repub­li­can Party stand against. You say her name in Repub­li­can cir­cles and they spit venom.”

Steve Koczela, pres­i­dent of The MassInc Polling Group, said it makes sense that Ms. War­ren would come un­der at­tack from na­tional GOP groups given that she has been such as po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure — beloved by the left and loathed by the right.

“She is cer­tainly one who gen­er­ates a lot of pas­sion on both sides,” Mr. Koczela said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, is set to em­bark on a tour for her new book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Bat­tle to Save Amer­ica’s Mid­dle Class,” which some con­ser­va­tives are warn­ing is a pos­si­ble warmup for a 2020 pres­i­den­tial run.

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