WATCH: Warren tests anti-corruption theme to cheers in Iowa debut

2019-01-06 11:20

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is introducing herself to influential Iowa Democrats by telling her personal story of economic opportunity, trying to lay claim in the emerging 2020 presidential field as a champion for a middle class she says is withering under US President Donald Trump.

On her first full day as a Democratic presidential prospect in the kick-off caucus state, Warren repeatedly argued that opportunities like hers have vanished because wealthy interests have bent policy makers in Washington to their will.

"They work for the rich and the powerful and not the rest of us. It's throughout the system," Warren said, igniting cheers from more than 500 in a downtown event hall Saturday evening.

"This is corruption, pure and simple. It is corruption and it is eating away at our democracy and every fibre of our lives."

READ: Warren took DNA test to help rebuild 'trust in government'

A leading Democrat in the Senate, Warren has made a name for herself as an advocate for consumer protection and become a regular target of Trump.

Twin themes

But by the end of a day of public speeches and private meetings during her Iowa debut, Warren made clear her campaign will be built upon the twin themes of economic fairness and government stripped of money's influence.

"We need big structural change," she said, her voice strained from speaking and the onset of laryngitis. "We've got to go big on this."

It's a message that echoed with an audience in the working-class cities of Council Bluffs on Friday evening and Sioux City on Saturday morning and lit up the crowd in the liberal state capital of Des Moines on Saturday evening.

Warren was scheduled to close out her Iowa visit on Sunday by meeting privately with Democratic activists at a Des Moines coffee shop and later with a public roundtable discussion with women in a Des Moines suburb.

Warren strayed little from the fairness and anti-corruption themes throughout the day.

Even when Sioux City Democrat Tricia Currans-Sheehan asked her why she submitted to a DNA test after Trump questioned Warren's claim of Native American ancestry, Warren shifted back to economic fairness.

The test results suggested Warren could have had a Native American ancestor many generations ago, which she described as the difference between ancestry and having a connection to a tribe, something Warren says she never claimed.

Trying to stick to her message, she said: "What 2020 is going to be about is not about my family. It's about the tens of millions of families across this country who just want a level playing field."

Warren's visit is an effort to gain an early advantage in the state. Other Democratic presidential prospects are expected to announce their plans in the coming weeks, and have been in touch for weeks with party leaders, activists and potential staff in Iowa.

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