Even as the movement to get Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to run for president has picked up some steam lately, the fact remains that she says she’s not running for president — at least not right now. So how does the outside group set up to draft her into the race handle not having any candidate yet? It turns out many of its backers have the same questions as everyone else.
In a conference call with supporters on Sunday that TPM listened in on, Erica Sagrans, the campaign manager for the Ready for Warren group, addressed some of those questions.
“We are encouraging her to run, we’re not just waiting for her to make up her mind but we want to show her that if she decides to run we’re supporting her and really convince her and show that we can stand up and have this role in our democracy and not just wait to be told ‘this is who your candidate’ is going to be,” Sagrans said. “So I think that’s really important to keep in mind.”
Each question that Sagrans addressed below came from a participant on the call.
Is this actually about defeating Hillary Clinton or is it about applying pressure?
“I would say that this is —Ready for Warren is, our number one priority and goal and why we exist is to draft Elizabeth Warren and encourage her to run for president in 2016. And we believe that is a possibility,” Sagrans said. “Warren was drafted to run for Senate —she didn’t set out to run for Senate when she ran. It wasn’t really in her plan. But when people got behind her and encouraged her and she saw that there was that opportunity that she’d be doing the work and organizing and fighting for working people in that role that she decided to do it. So that is our goal and I believe that MoveOn and [Democracy for America] are working to that as well.
“But as sort of a sub-goal of that we do see value in making a competitive primary in order to show that people want the values that Elizabeth Warren represents. That we want a progressive champion in the race, someone like Warren.”
Is there a possibility that this is really about behind-the-scenes Democratic forces trying to create a Warren-Clinton or Clinton-Warren ticket?
“It’s hard to know. There’s lots of speculation about what sort of conversations are happening,” Sagrans said. “And we don’t know exactly who’s talking to who or what’s being said to what but we’re really focused on drafting Warren to run for president. But I think there are some people there saying ‘oh it would be great a Clinton-Warren ticket’ or a Warren-Clinton ticket or a Sanders-Warren ticket or Warren-Sanders. There’s all sorts of combinations that people have talked about and everyone has their own personal preference.”
Has Ready for Warren had any contact with Sen. Warren’s office or senior advisers?
“We are an independent effort and have not tried to meet with Warren up to this point. We have not tried to have meetings with her staff because we know what they’re saying,” Sagrans said. “Their public message is that she is not moving currently. But MoveOn before they announced that they were doing this they publicized that they let her staff know. They have worked with her more in the past than we have. She’s joined them for conference calls and all those things so they did give her office a heads up. Her office still says we’re not running but they didn’t tell them ‘don’t do this’ or anything, as far as I know.”
How long will the draft Warren movement stay a draft Warren movement? What’s the timeline for either turning into a campaign or bowing out?
“In terms of timeline I think the latest thinking is that other candidates, namely Hillary Clinton, will announce in February, March, sometime around then —early Spring,” Sagrans said. “I think we have more time than that, after other candidates announce. We still have some time. Warren is very popular. She could fundraise successfully online and offline if she were to announce. We’d all be obviously very excited. So I think she has a little more time but she probably has to decide sometime in 2015 if she is going to run.”
The Ready for Warren call comes after some outside liberal organizations have fallen in line behind the senator from Massachusetts in recent days: MoveOn.org has committed to spend $1 million on a “Run Warren Run” push, and Democracy for America is spending $250,000 in a similar move.