With a sharply divided nation, and an extremely controversial and polarizing president confident about his ability to win a second term in the Oval Office, the Democrats will definitely have their work cut out for them when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate. But on Monday, outspoken Trump critic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared to have unofficially thrown her hat into the ring for the 2020 presidential race, according to CNN, and it is definitely a big deal. While Warren has already been a prominent political figure for quite some time, she will no doubt be facing unprecedented attention and scrutiny moving forward, and so these nine facts about Elizabeth Warren will be valuable to know as she prepares to launch a formal campaign.
In a 4-and-a-half minute video message, Warren announced she was launching an exploratory committee for president, which is all but a confirmation that she indeed intends to take on Trump for the White House. But she also made her political viewpoint very clear.
In the clip, Warren emphasized her belief that Americans who work hard should be able to provide for themselves and their families, regardless of their backgrounds. Perhaps even more importantly, Warren specifically called out the imbalance that exists in America between the opportunities for white families and those of color to prosper, and she didn't hold back when drawing a conclusion.
Warren stated outright that "America's middle class is under attack" thanks to the work of corporations and politicians serving the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. According to Warren, "billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice."
If you've been paying attention to Warren's political messages and pushbacks against Trump, then her words are not likely to be a huge surprise. But the fact that she appears to be poised to officially run against him in 2020 means that her words now matter more than ever. And it also means that understanding who Warren is, where she comes from, and what she stands for, is hugely important.
1. She Was Raised In A Working-Class Family In Oklahoma
Warren, 69, grew up in Oklahoma, in a family she described in her website bio as being "on the ragged edge of the middle class." In her video, she explained that when she was young, her older brothers had joined the military, her father suffered a heart attack, that meant her mother had to take a minimum wage job at Sears to keep their family afloat (her father later found work as a janitor).
2. Prior To Politics, She Was A School Teacher & A Lawyer
Despite her humble beginnings, Warren was she was still able to go on to pursue her goals — first as a young 22-year-old mom working as an elementary school teacher, according to her website, and later as a practicing lawyer, having graduated from Rutgers School of Law shortly before giving birth to her son, Alex.
3. She's Also Worked As A Law Professor
From the late 70s right up until 2012, Warren also held positions at various law schools as a lecturer and professor, according to CNN. After lecturing at her alma mater for one year, she became a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, and then at University of Texas Law School in Austin, and later at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. From 1992 to 1993, Warren served as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and in 1995, she returned as a Harvard professor, right up until 2012, according to CNN.
4. She's Written Books On Finances & The Middle Class
Fighting to strengthen the middle class isn't just a political talking point for Warren, she's also written books on the matter. In 2004, for one, Warren and her daughter, Amelia Tyagi, co-authored The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke, according to Mother Jones, and argued that double-income families today are actually much worse off than single-income families of previous generations, thanks to rising fixed costs like health care, child care, and housing. Warren and Tyagi wrote, "Our data show families in financial trouble are working hard, playing by the rules — and the game is stacked against them."
In total though, Warren has actually authored "more than a hundred articles" and eleven books, according to her official bio, her latest book being 2017's best-selling This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class.
5. Believe Or Not, She Was Once A Registered Republican
Though she currently has her eye on the Democratic presidential ticket, Warren was actually once a Republican. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos in 2014, according to Think Progress, Warren explained that she was a registered Republican in Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1996, but that she ultimately chose to leave the party when she began feeling like it was become too pro-Wall Street. Warren said,
I was with the GOP for a while because I really thought that it was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets. And I feel like the GOP party just left that. They moved to a party that said, "No, it’s not about a level playing field. It’s now about a field that’s gotten tilted." And they really stood up for the big financial institutions when the big financial institutions are just hammering middle class American families. I just feel like that’s a party that moved way, way away.
6. She Won A Senate Seat in 2012
In November 2012, Warren was elected to the Senate in Massachusetts, beating out the incumbent, Scott Brown, according to CNN. Yet her political involvement formally began in 2008, when she was appointed by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to a Congressional oversight panel responsible for overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Warren to an advisory position to to launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, though she stepped down from the post in 2011.
7. Nevertheless, She Persisted
These days, "Nevertheless, She Persisted" has basically become a general feminist battlecry, but it actually emerged in February 2017, when Warren took the Senate floor to read a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King in an effort to argue against the nomination of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Warren initially received a warning by Montana Sen. Steve Daines about reading King's letter, according to The Washington Post, and when she continued, Senate Majority Leader McConnell moved to have her formally voted off the floor. He later argued that his actions were justified, and said, "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
8. She's Long Been A Target Of Trump's Vitriol
You don't have to be closely following politics to know that President Trump is no fan of Warren — for one, he has famously referred to her repeatedly as "Pocahontas" in an effort to mock her claim that she has Native American heritage, according to ABC News. But she's also served up criticism of her own, and in her 2017 book, she even compared the president to an authoritarian leader. She wrote,
Look at what he has done. He has expressed his admiration for Mussolini, for Vladimir Putin. He has tried to undermine a free press. He’s shown no respect for the courts. Those are the steps that authoritarians take.
9. But She'll Still Likely Face Stiff Competition — Even Within Her Own Party
Warren may be a well-known Democrat, and her decision to throw her hat into the presidential ring likely isn't much of a surprise to anyone. However, it definitely doesn't mean she's a sure bet. According to The New York Times, popular Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, are both thought to be 2020 contenders, yet if the November midterms were a clue (and they likely are), then Warren should also expect stiff competition from a newer, more diverse crop of Democratic faces, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — and even perhaps Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, according to The Washington Post, who remains a popular Democratic figure despite his November loss to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
In other words? Hold on to your seats, because the 2020 election is likely to be a seriously wild ride. And though Sen. Warren has already proven herself to be a force within the Democratic party, fighting for greater equity for all Americans, based on her announcement Monday it seems very clear she is only just getting started.