“No,” US Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Monday night. “I am not running for president. I am not going to run for president.”
It was a new linguistic dance — “going to run” was a new turn of phrase — from the US progressive base’s favorite politician, who has been fending off calls to run for the White House almost since she was elected to the Senate two-and-a-half years ago.
With a year and a half to go before next year’s presidential election, with candidates lining up early, including an expected campaign launch from former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton next month, Warren’s loyal following flocked to her latest hemming-and-hawing at a book event in New York.
Some Warren super fans had been waiting outside a Barnes and Noble store more than nine hours in advance — like groupies — but for a book reading of a political memoir.
“I think she will get drafted,” said Marion Edwards, a New Yorker who works in insurance and holds a swift allegiance to Warren over Clinton — who is facing new questions this week over her use of private e-mail during her time as secretary of state. “Hillary has too much baggage and she isn’t handling it very well.”
From involved voters to the devoted followers who make up Ready for Warren, a grassroots group trying to lay the groundwork for her potential presidential bid, the “Run, Liz, run,” crowd is parsing the senator’s every word.
Most often, that word is “no.”
Here’s a look back at how Warren has dodged the will-she-or-won’t-she question and made her way to an almost, possibly, maybe definitive answer.
In December 2013, while attending a press conference for then Boston mayor-elect Marty Walsh, Warren is asked whether she would run for president.
“I’m not running for president and I plan to serve out my term... I am not running for president. I am working as hard as I can to be the best [possible] senator I can be,” she said.
In April last year, the release of Warren’s book A Fighting Chance breathes new life — or at least bookstore question-and-answer opportunities and television interviews — into presidential speculation.
To ABC News anchor David Muir, she said: “I am not running for president.”
To CBS, she adds a contraction.
“I’m not running for president,” she said.
“So there’s no way you’re going to run in 2016?” the CBS reporter asked.
“I’m not running for president. You can ask it lots of different ways, but I wrote this book because we can’t wait longer. It’s written out of gratitude for my start and the opportunities that America built for me, and how I think that’s what we’ve got to do again. I’m committed to that,” she said.
Later that week, just to make sure that everyone was on the same page, Charlie Rose asked Warren: “You constantly say you’re not running for president. Does that mean you’re not running for president in 2016?”
“You can ask this a whole lot of different ways, but the key is, I’m not running for president,” Warren replied.
In June last year, Warren gets (slightly) more assertive — with punctuation, at least — telling the Boston Globe: “I am not running for president. Do you want to put an exclamation point at the end of that?”
In July last year, her local paper does not give up and the senator clarifies: “I’m going to give you the same answer I have given you many times. There is no wiggle room. I am not running for president. No means no.”
In October last year, in an interview with People, Warren tried a different approach.
“I don’t think so... If there’s any lesson I’ve learned in the last five years, it’s don’t be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open,” she said.
In December last year, Warren sees how many times say can she is not running for president in one grammar-bending minute. About four, according to an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
Asked what she would tell Ready for Warren organizers, Warren said: “I’m, I am not running for president. That’s not what we’re doing.”
To which NPR pushed backed: “Would you tell these independent groups: ‘Give it up!’ You’re just never going to run?”
“I told them, ‘I’m not running for president,’” Warren said.
“You’re putting that in the present tense, though. Are you never going to run?” Inskeep asked again.
“I am not running for president,” Warren said.
“You’re not putting a ‘never’ on that,” Inskeep pushed once more.
He got the punctuation line.
“I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?” Warren said.
In January, former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chair Sheila Bair, in an interview for Fortune, asks, rather simply: “So are you going to run for president?”
“No,” Warren said.
The two left it at that.
Last month, as if another push from the Globe was not enough, NPR pushes again as the book tour moves into the paperback phase, in a new interview published on Monday.
“But you don’t want to run, still?” NPR asked.
“I do not,” Warren replied.
NPR tried again.
“Do you think it would be better for the party, though, if Hillary Clinton has a challenger in the primary?” NPR asked.
“Now, come on, Hillary Clinton has not declared,” Warren replied.
Hours later in New York, at Barnes and Noble, a moderator asks: “I am sure if I didn’t ask this, I’d get run out of the store. The question is — verbatim: Will you please run for president?”
Whoops, applause and even chants of “run, Liz, run” follow from the audience.
Before Warren could answer, a man yelled out: “Say yes!”
“No,” the senator said with a smile. “I am not running for president. I am not going to run for president... I have this place now in the Senate, this opportunity to get out there and fight. I want you to know, these are real fights.”
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