(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Massachusetts residents know her well, but Wednesday night marks the introduction of Massachusetts Senate candidate and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren to the national stage.
Warren, 63, is running in what will be one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country this cycle, against Republican incumbent Scott Brown.
But the choice to give Warren a coveted prime time speaking slot — introducing Bill Clinton — is not merely a Democratic ploy to raise her profile in the race. Warren has earned a reputation in the past few years as a protector of the consumer and a sheriff of Wall Street, and she’s developed an enthusiastic following among the Democratic base.
The Case for Warren
Warren’s Senate campaign centers on her career of fighting for the consumer and the middle class.
In 2008, Warren was given the job of overseeing the allocation of funds from the TARP program. It was during this time that Warren developed her reputation as being someone who was willing to take on the big banks.
In 2010, she helped to develop the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a newly created department in the Obama administration. Warren was not asked to head up the department out of fears that she would not pass a Senate confirmation.
Instead, Warren turned her sights on her state’s Senate race, tossing her hat into the ring in September 2011, and became a star in the state almost instantly.
The Case Against Warren
Remember Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remarks? He wasn’t the first one to say that: His comments track very closely to a speech Warren gave in 2011.
“You built a factory out there? Good for you — but I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for,” Warren said.
Republicans have latched onto Obama’s remarks — even making an entire theme of one night “we build it” at their convention last week — and the president’s camp has sought to make clear the context and intention of those remarks.
“Of course Americans build their own businesses. Every day, hardworking people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs and make our economy run. And what I said was that we need to stand behind them, as America always has,” Obama said in a recent television ad.
Warren has never backed off from her remarks. And while it seems likely that she won’t be reiterating those sentiments again Wednesday night, the Republicans can be expected to attempt to remind the voting public about the speech.
The other argument against Warren has to do with her sheriff of Wall Street image. While it plays well with the base, there’s a risk that Warren could be viewed as a demonizer of big business.
What Should We Expect to Hear?
“I’m going to talk about what I’ve talked about for years now,” Warren told ABC News in an interview in August. “America’s middle class is getting hammered and Washington is rigged to work for the big guy. That’s what got me into this race, and that’s what I will talk about.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Maeve Reston, CNN
Jeanne Sahadi, CNN