CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Her speeches behind the scenes here in Charlotte this week have wowed the small rooms, leaving those who heard her impressed and enthusiastic about U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. On Wednesday night she spoke in a nationally televised address that organizers viewed as among the convention’s most important.
Just one year ago, Warren had not yet officially launched her campaign for Senate. On Wednesday night, she marveled at how far she’s come.
“I never thought I’d run for the Senate, and I sure never dreamed that I’d be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton,” she said.
As delegates waved signs that said “Middle Class First,” Warren played up the theme of her campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown: protecting working families.
“But now, for many years, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed and hammered.”
-Democratic National Convention-
Select coverage from the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte:
- Patrick, Late Sen. Kennedy Play Big Role In Convention’s Opening Night
- WBUR Interview: Elizabeth Warren
- Warren’s Speech Plays Well At DNC
- Former Gov. Dukakis Hits Romney On Economic Record
- WBUR Interview: Sen. John Kerry
- Frank, Kerry Lash Into Romney
- Mass. Delegates Focused, Energized
- Commentaries: Payne & Domke
- Scenes From The Democratic Convention
- Updates From The Conventions
She also told her personal story and used one of her signature lines, one that’s emblazoned on T-shirts worn by many delegates.
“People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance, they live, they love and they die,” she said. “And that matters because we don’t run this country for corporations.”
These words were hard to hear in the arena because Warren delivered her speech in a quiet voice, in an almost-subdued manner. Much of the address was similar to those she uses on the campaign trail in Massachusetts, but at the convention, she did not mention her opponent. She stuck to jabs at Mitt Romney and praise for President Obama.
“He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute,” Warren said of Obama, “a country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business.”
At the end, the arena erupted with chants of her name as if she were running president; from every state, they all knew her name.
Massachusetts delegates widely praised her speech. Marilyn Powers said she appreciated that Warren didn’t deliver angry one-line attacks.
“There’s a quiet, peaceful resolution about her that you know she believes in what she’s doing,” Powers said.
The speech played well from Arkansas to Kentucky, where delegate Kay McCollum said she was impressed.
“I’ve heard a lot about her and it was just different to see her,” McCollum said. “I thought, oh my goodness, she wasn’t loud, she was sincere, soft and kind.”
Carol Butler, from Oregon, says she wants Warren in the Senate.
“Oregonians have been watching her throughout this campaign because she’s such a compelling figure and she’s caught the attention of progressives all over the country,” Butler said.
But while Warren has caught attention at the Democratic National Convention, to get to the national stage again she’ll have to win the Senate seat in November. And right now polls show her trailing the incumbent Brown.