Rising star from afar, Elizabeth Warren, shines here
Oh, hey, Maria. Did you bring your friend? That was the vibe the other night at the Paramount Theatre, where Sen. Maria Cantwell held a fundraiser with Elizabeth Warren.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Oh, hey, Maria. Did you bring your friend?
That was the vibe the other night at the Paramount Theatre, where Sen. Maria Cantwell held a fundraiser with Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who is running for Senate in Massachusetts, and who arguably has more game than anyone else on the political landscape — no matter how much money Mitt Romney is willing to bet.
People spoke of Warren like they knew her. No matter that she isn't even a candidate in Washington state.
"I'm here for Elizabeth Warren," said Vicki Neumeier, who drove up from Tacoma for the $40-a-head fundraiser.
"Elizabeth. Hands down," said Paul Fredlund, of Seattle. "She's going to be the next Democratic candidate for president. She's the spokesperson for the middle class."
Cantwell, 53, running for re-election and clearly no fool, knew to tap into that energy by bringing Warren, a former Obama administration official, to help boost her coffers — and complement her own efforts at financial reform.
The women have established a joint fundraising committee under the banner of "Fighting for Main Street," and will split whatever they raise. They took in $200,000 in one day here, according to Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold.
In recent months, Warren's profile has, literally, gone viral, thanks to a video of her addressing a group about the debt crisis and taxing the rich.
Her point: The rich didn't get there on their own. They moved their goods on taxpayer-funded roads, with employees educated in taxpayer-funded schools, all the while protected by taxpayer-funded police and fire services.
"You built a factory and it turned into something terrific... ," Warren says in the clip. "God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."
Fredlund has watched the video "at least a half a dozen times."
"It's a message that resonates on where the country needs to go," he said, "where it once was, and needs to return."
Sherry Zeilstra, chair of the 42nd Legislative District Democrats, has watched the clip more than once, too.
"I just really admire how (Warren) is sticking up for us against the 'banksters,' " she said. But it's not just the debt crisis that is making Warren a Democratic darling. There's also a crisis in the party itself — something not lost on the liberal stronghold of Seattle.
Warren is challenging Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who in 2010 won the seat long held by Ted Kennedy. Some people see Warren as the one to take back what belonged to them.
After Cantwell introduced her as "the best candidate money can't buy," Warren took the podium to thunderous applause.
She spoke of her father the janitor, the now-defunct government programs that helped her get a college education, and how that promise has been lost.
"We now live in an America in which GE, a profitable company, could pay zero in taxes at the same time we said to young people, 'You'll have to pay more to get an education,' and to older people, 'Live on less,' " Warren said. "That's not a question of economics. That's a question of values."
By speech's end, Warren seemed to be the new hope, another up-from-nothing candidate with a great American story to tell, and a promise that, if elected, things will change not just in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but everywhere.
"She's not a folk hero," said Irene Endresen. "That's belittling. She is so much more than that. I would rather play with my grandchildren, like she could. But here she is, going out to do what she thinks is right."
Cherie Spies cut a check to the Warren campaign. Doesn't matter that she's running to represent a state on the other side of the country.
"It's global now," she said of the financial crisis that Warren, if elected, hopes to solve. "It's everywhere."
And what about Cantwell?
It was smart of her to bring Warren to Seattle, said Bill Scott, 80, of Skyway.
"Maria can take care of herself."
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
Dow owes her a donut.
About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
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