The light rain that spritzed New York City’s Washington Square Park Monday night did not deter thousands of people from standing on benches, climbing trees, and clustering around the fountain to get a glimpse of the one candidate they believed could successfully take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election: Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
At Warren’s largest rally to date, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts denounced corruption of all kinds, from lobbyists’ political campaign contributions to the lack of transparency about the finances of the sitting president, whom she dubbed “corruption in the flesh.” “Corruption has broken our economy, and corruption is breaking our democracy,” Warren, wearing a bright purple blazer, told the crowd, which numbered somewhere between the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s estimate of 8,000 to 10,000 and the Warren campaign’s estimate of 20,000.
The Warren supporters we spoke to said that her populist political ideology and emphasis on major societal change could give her an edge over Trump, who campaigned on similarly anti-establishment grounds in 2016.
“I think that Elizabeth Warren offers a lot to [Trump’s] supporters that are concerned about the economy and their place in it,” said Nancy Brandwein, a 60-year-old freelance writer who attended the rally. “He talked all about being anti-establishment…but she’s walked the walk. She has worked on fighting corruption and breaking up the banks.”
Listen to Elizabeth Warren supporters (and a few Warren-curious) explain how they might convince a Trump fan in their lives to vote for the senator from Massachusetts, on this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast (the segment starts at around 16:25):
Garrett Lance, a 28-year-old law student, said that the Trump supporters he knows care about “a sense of decency a sense of moral clarity,” and he thinks that Warren’s overall message, if not her specific plans, will speak to them.
“I don’t know that I would be able to convince some of my Republican friends that Medicare for All is the best health care plan, even if that’s something I may believe,” he said. “But I do think I can convince them that she is a woman who fights for what she believes and she fights for people—in my opinion—all across this country. And we’ve seen time and again that Trump is a man that really cares first and foremost about himself and about his friends.”
Another Warren supporter, Idris Mignott, 57, who works in non-profit fundraising, said he thinks Warren’s message of change would appeal to people who voted for Trump in 2016 but did not see his promises fulfilled. “A lot of people elected Trump on the idea of big structural change,” he said. “Elizabeth Warren is for big structural change. She’s about really draining the swamp.”
And, he added, “She’s someone who can win.”