Elizabeth Warren has been on the receiving end of an onslaught of jabs, swipes, missives, think-pieces and basic bashing from opponents this previous week, the likes of which she hasn’t experienced since she jumped into the presidential race.
However extra shocking than the attacks — Warren, having risen to frontrunner standing, had those coming — has been her response.
In two phrases: No comment.
Her surrogates and campaign aides aren’t happening cable TV to defend her — whilst her rivals and their aides are continually on exhibits bashing her. Warren advisers haven’t taken to Twitter to form “the conversation.” There’ve been no statements from Warren HQ calling out rivals by identify. Even when former Vice President Joe Biden portrayed Warren as an out-of-touch elitist — while he was attending a fundraiser with actual estate moguls, providing the corruption-focused Warren a freebie rebuttal — the marketing campaign stored quiet.
The one response of observe to the elitist charge was a subtweet the Warren marketing campaign posted Wednesday with a video about her humble upbringing and challenges as a younger mother.
The marketing campaign’s refusal to interact this week has baffled rival campaigns and some Democratic strategists. However it’s not an outlier. Internally, communications director Kristen Orthman refers to the strategy as “blinders and bulletin board” — as in, put your blinders on to the horserace drama and stick your retorts on a bulletin board somewhat than tweeting them out. (Orthman has an precise bulletin board on which she also posts important tales about Warren as a motivation device.)
“Preventing on Twitter most of the time does not advance our objectives,” stated one marketing campaign official in explaining Warren’s refusal to comply with “The Warfare Room” ethos that political campaigns have hewed to for many years. Briefly: All attacks have to be publicly returned, after which some.
“How are you going to run for president — and run towards President Trump — round a campaign that doesn’t answer questions and debate your personal coverage proposal? I don’t get it,” stated James Carville, the man behind the original conflict room arrange for Bill Clinton’s 1992 run.
Warren aides stated they are not adopting a pacifist posture; they anticipate that some assaults would require a response. Fairly, they are saying they're adapting to the fashionable media surroundings the place responding to all the things can distract from more necessary tasks and muddle their message.
This week, as an example, the campaign needed attention targeted on a high-profile endorsement of Warren given by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, as well as the candidate's latest coverage proposal targeted on veterans. Warren additionally unveiled a tongue-in-cheek “Calculator for the Billionaires” that permits the ultra-rich to see how a lot they’d pay beneath Warren’s wealth tax proposal.
Nonetheless, there is a question whether or not the unconventional strategy will work as the assaults intensify ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire, not to mention towards Donald Trump in a basic election. Democrats are watching intently which of the candidates will have the ability to get up to the president: When asked to decide on between a candidate who can beat Trump multiple who merely displays their values, polls show Democratic voters favor the former.
The political consulting class is cut up over the technique.
“That is probably the most large, ginormous and impressive detailed plan we’ve seen in trendy American politics and she or he’s not partaking,” Carville stated of Warren's Medicare for All proposal. “Perhaps the very fact of the matter is she doesn’t have an excellent response in order that’s why she’s not responding. Or perhaps occasions have changed and I don’t know what I’m talking about."
Dan Pfeiffer, the former senior advisor to Barack Obama and the writer of “Sure We (Still) Can,” stated there's an actual worth for partaking in a volley of attacks towards candidates who've their own sizable followings. Regardless of what he referred to as the media’s “blood-lust” for battle, Pfeiffer stated candidates "who have gone unfavorable have suffered mightily over time.”
One other Democratic strategist who's in contact with the Warren's communications group, credited them for resisting the urge to fireside again. “There's far more to be misplaced in attacking fellow Democrats than there's to be gained for a news cycle or two,” the individual stated.
Biden’s advisers stated they’re simply positive with Warren’s MO. Politics abhors a vacuum, they stated, and her lack of a response amplifies their criticisms and makes it easier to define the previous Harvard professor as an "elitist" who gained’t deign to debate plans they argue gained’t work in the actual world.
“Some call it the 'my approach or the highway' strategy to politics. Nevertheless it’s worse than that. It’s condescending to the hundreds of thousands of Democrats who have a special view,” Biden wrote in a Medium post this week, referring to Warren’s calls for Medicare for All. “It’s consultant of an elitism that working and middle class individuals don't share." He later echoing those criticisms at multiple fundraisers, and his campaign blasted out excerpts of the criticisms of Warren’s plan from her home-state Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the New York Times and a number of other different publications.
Biden campaign spokesperson TJ Ducklo informed POLITICO that the offensive will proceed. “We are going to proceed speaking about this as a result of we gained’t beat Donald Trump with double speak on well being care,” he stated.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who's now operating in second in Iowa polls behind Warren, also accused Warren of adopting a “my method or the freeway” strategy and stated of Warren’s message: “It's undoubtedly not unifying."
However, for now — with Warren atop the polls within the early states and nationally, or close behind Biden — her staff says they’re choosing their battles. Whereas she hasn’t bluntly attacked her rivals, she and the campaign have gone after massive firms and wealthy individuals comparable to Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon, and Jamie Dimon. This week, billionaire investor Leon Cooperman was brough to tears on live TV, as he took exception to a collection of Warren tweets directed his method, following his own harsh words for her.
Asked Thursday in North Carolina the primary differences between her and different Democrats operating, Warren once more declined to interact.
“[W]hat I’m gonna do is I’ll speak about why I’m operating,” she stated, whereas acknowledging that she has “actually prevented this question."
Article originally revealed on POLITICO Magazine