Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) may have finally said she’s not going to run for president in 2016, but she’s still got the GOP opposition machine tailing her on the off chance she changes her mind or just because she’s an influential figure among Democrats.
Both the Republican National Committee and America Rising, the leading GOP opposition research group, have been eagerly compiling opposition files on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in anticipation of her running for president, but both groups have also been compiling negative info on Warren as well.
“Obviously we’ve been spending a bulk of our time on Secretary Clinton,” Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising told TPM. “She’s clearly the person that the Democratic establishment is a aligning behind but we’ve also done the necessary research for a potential candidate to emerge and I think Elizabeth Warren is at the top of that list.”
America Rising does not have a tracker on her, like opposition groups often do for candidates, but the group has been monitoring the speeches she gives and making sure to keep track of her votes.
It’s a similar story for the RNC.
“There are a lot of Dems that seem to be wary about anointing Hillary and many of them come from the Warren wing of the party. We will continue focusing on her,” RNC press secretary Kirsten Kukowski told TPM. Kukowski added that her committee is “doing the research and preparing for Warren the same way we would anyone who could potentially run for president.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, just after he won a third term Friday, name-checked Warren saying the GOP has to make a case against Democratic candidates for president “whether that’s Hillary or Biden or Warren or someone else.”
The focus on Warren is partly a response to what happened in 2008 when Republicans were preparing for Clinton to get the nomination and instead a new senator from Illinois won it instead, rendering some of the prepared attacks useless (especially after President Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate instead of Clinton).
There’s another motivation, too. Even if Warren doesn’t run for president, she’s become such a high-profile figure in the Democratic Party that knocking her out has its own value for Republicans and devoting some attention to her could spill over to Clinton. Warren, after all, proved to be a valuable fundraiser in the 2014 cycle and has already started boosting new Democrats.
“She’s still going to be a very visible part of the Democratic Party and is going to be a top surrogate,” Miller said. “For our sake it makes sense to make sure we’re doing our due diligence.”
“Elizabeth Warren may or not run in 2016. She also may not run in 2020,” Doug Heye, a Republican consultant and former communications director for the Republican National Committee, told TPM. “I think if you’re America Rising, if you’re the RNC, Getting the information of what she’s proposed, and why that’s wrong for the country is important to get out.”