As the Joe Biden veepstakes heat up, Elizabeth Warren is making her play. In a recent appearance at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Senator Warren appeared to be softening her position on one of her most signature issues in her 2020 presidential campaign: Medicare for All. As the senator explained to David Axelrod, “I think right now people want to see improvements in our healthcare system, and that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act…” Strengthening the ACA rather than abolish it in favor of Medicare for All was one of the main platforms of Joe Biden’s campaign.
This apparent moderation of a key campaign platform is a small signal by Senator Warren to Joe Biden that she is the one both best suited for the challenges ahead and the one to best accommodate his wishes and needs in a vice president. Her strategy is to show the Biden team that she would also be ready to go on day one; the one best prepared to help a President Biden hit the ground running. As Alex Thompson wrote in Politico, “Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick.”
Elizabeth Warren brings a number of strengths to the Biden campaign. Her ability to create “plans” would help a Biden White House eager to navigate the difficulties of a potential economic depression created by COVID-19. Her time as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows her experience in governance. She could also help increase turnout among the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, a growing coalition of the party that is still uneasy with Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee.
However, these upsides do not mean that Warren is a shoo-in to be Joe Biden’s running mate. Many of Biden’s top donors have insisted that she not be his running mate, some even going so far as saying that Biden would “lose the election” if Warren was on the ticket. Warren’s knack for going after Democrats who did not exactly line up with her positions on various issues has created a rift between Warren and the type of Democrats that Joe Biden has aligned himself with throughout his career.
A potential Biden-Warren ticket would be the culmination of a mostly-antagonistic relationship that has recently turned more accommodating between the two Democrats. In 2005, then-Senator Biden and then-Professor Warren sparred over a bankruptcy bill in a Senate hearing room. Throughout the 2020 campaign, Biden and Warren sparred over everything from foreign policy, healthcare, and even how supportive Joe Biden was of the legislation that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now, their relationship has started to cool, with Vice President Biden voicing his support for Warren’s bankruptcy reforms, the cause of their earlier rivalry. He has also called for “sweeping economic change” because of the coronavirus, echoing Elizabeth Warren. Warren has reciprocated Biden’s outreach, providing him with her vast email list of supporters, along with the previously mentioned softening on Medicare for All.
Biden-Warren 2020? The prospect does not sound as crazy as it did before.