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Elizabeth Warren Takes A Big Step Toward A Presidential Run02:57
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Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with reporters outside her home in Cambridge after announcing that she is setting up an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency in 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with reporters outside her home in Cambridge after announcing that she is setting up an exploratory committee for a run for the presidency in 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren just moved a big step closer to running for president in 2020.

With a video and a letter to supporters Monday, the Massachusetts Democrat announced her intentions to set up an exploratory committee for a White House run.

In the video, she calls out a corrupt system in Washington that she claims is assaulting America’s working families.

“America’s middle class is under attack," Warren said. "How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie and enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”

Warren has spent much of her career focused on corporate corruption. As a senator, and now as a likely presidential candidate, she’s taking on political corruption.

Speaking from her home in Cambridge, Warren said if she decides to run, this will be the focus of her campaign.

"America's middle class is getting hollowed out, and opportunity for too many of our young people is shrinking. So I'm in this fight all the way," Warren said.

A number of recent polls, including one by WBUR, found that corruption in Washington is the issue voters are most concerned about — more than health care, more than the economy and jobs. It’s what Donald Trump ran on when he promised to “drain the swamp,” so it could offer Warren a powerful message to run on.

Peter Ubertacio, a dean and political scientist at Stonehill College, says it’s a smart way to reach voters disillusioned with Washington. But Ubertacio says a Warren presidential campaign could face some strong headwinds.

"You know, she is going to bring some negatives to the table," Ubertacio said. "She is not extraordinarily popular nationally. She will be characterized as an elite, out-of-touch liberal professor."

That perception could undermine her populist message.

On the other hand, Warren brings other strengths to the table, including a willingness to stand up to President Trump. So says Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic political consultant.

"Well, nobody gets under Donald Trump's skin more than Elizabeth Warren," Marsh says. "If you're a Democrat, you are measured by the strength of your opposition to Donald Trump. And for Elizabeth Warren, first to market is a smart move."

But some critics say Warren has already misplayed that anti-Trump card. When she took a DNA test to prove that she has Native American ancestry, critics, including lots of progressives, say she played right into the hands of the man who mocks her as “Pocahontas.”

But setting up an exploratory committee will help Warren accelerate fundraising and staffing efforts and give her a head start in what’s expected to be a crowded field of Democrats hoping to challenge Donald Trump in 2020.

This segment aired on January 1, 2019.

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Anthony Brooks Twitter Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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