SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — With two weeks to go before Election Day, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is fighting for every vote.
Outside the Puerto Rico Bakery here in Springfield on Monday, we talked to Warren about the campaign, with the most recent polls showing a tight race. We started by asking where the race stands right now — a question she didn’t want to address head on.
Elizabeth Warren: For me it’s about the people I’m meeting every day. You know, people come up to me and tell me, “You gotta win!” And then they tell me why I’ve gotta win.
Bob Oakes: Do they tell you you’re going to win? Do you feel like you’re going to win?
A lot of people tell me I’m going to win, a lot of people. But you know, it doesn’t matter. I’m still out there running as hard as I can, working as hard as I can, because I know how much is on the line.
When you were in Washington, D.C., overseeing the bank bailout program known as TARP, your line of questioning rubbed people, including Treasury Secretary [Timothy] Geithner, the wrong way. Critics say that the hard line demonstrates that you might not be willing or able to work across the aisle to get things done in Washington. What do you say to that? And give us an example of how you could work across the aisle.
I stood up. And I stood up to people in this administration, I stood up to people in the Republican administration, I stood up to people on Wall Street. I stood up because my job was to be there to speak out for the American people; that’s what I thought was important.
But it’s also important to remember, I then went to Washington and worked with Geithner for a year setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And we worked well together, because we had a job to do together. And so, I can do that, and I have done that.
Part of bipartisanship is recognizing the shortcomings of proposals coming from one’s own party. Along those lines, what do you see as shortcomings of President Obama?
Oh, come on. Here we are two weeks before the election, I’m out here working for President Obama. I want to see him as commander-in-chief.
But look, I’ve maintained my independence. You started this line of questioning with my standing up to Secretary Geithner and my making it clear that there were places where I thought the current administration’s dealing with the financial crisis was not the best that it could be. And I was perfectly willing to speak out. And I will be perfectly willing to speak out as the senator from the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
On the U.S. Supreme Court, the next Senate is almost certainly going to get to weigh in on a Supreme Court justice, maybe more than one justice. Would you follow the party line, supporting candidates who only fall on the liberal side? Would the nominee’s stance on Roe v. Wade be a litmus test for you?
Look, let’s be clear: Roe v. Wade is the law. And what matters here is that we have open-minded, fair-minded judges. When Sen. Scott Brown says that his model justice is [Antonin] Scalia, I am reminded that Scalia is someone who has called Roe v. Wade “utterly idiotic,” who has said that the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution does not apply to women, and has said the states could outlaw birth control.
Me, I think Elena Kagan is a model judge. She’s somebody who’s been in there and notice: She’s voted with some surprising groups in putting things together on health care, for example. I think she’s open-minded, I think she’s smart, I think she’s tough, and, fundamentally, she’s got good values, and that’s what we should be looking for.
What’s been the best surprise in this campaign so far, and what’s been unexpectedly irritating/disappointing?
So the best part in the race has been the people. I am so deeply heartened by having been in this campaign, by having the chance to be the one out on point and to be here for lots and lots of people who believe we can do a better job.
And on the irritating or disappointing side?
It’s whenever we’re not talking about the issues. Every minute not talking about issues that really matter to working families, spending them on other stuff, it’s frustrating.
You’ve been under the microscope for a really long time now, so I’m going to ask the impossible: Can you take yourself out of the campaign mode for just a moment and tell us something about Elizabeth Warren that no one knows yet?
Oh gosh, you know what bumped into my mind? (laughs) I brush my dog’s teeth.
I’m sure your dog really appreciates that.
The truth is, he seems to like it, and it gives him a nice smile.
Sen. Scott Brown has so far declined multiple requests for an interview with WBUR.