COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has made her Iowa debut with all the look of a presidential candidate, bringing her brand of liberalism to the nation’s premier caucus state.
“It’s time to dream big and fight hard, not just for those at the top, but for an America that works for everyone,” Warren told about 500 people at a Friday night event.
Warren called for economic fairness in front of a cheering crowd of Iowa and Nebraska Democrats at a bowling alley. She planned further appearances over the weekend.
Warren has made a name for herself as an advocate for consumer protection and become a regular target of President Donald Trump. But this trip offered the first glimpse of what she may look like as a 2020 candidate.
“This is where it begins, person-to-person, town-to-town, across Iowa and across the country,” she said, igniting cheers. “We’re going to build a grassroots movement.”
She also signaled a potential point of conflict within the Democratic primary field, suggesting billionaire candidates would not represent the party well if they used their personal wealth to help finance their campaigns. Billionaires including environmentalist Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are considering runs, and Steyer plans to visit Iowa on Wednesday.
“I think that campaigns should not be for sale,” she said.
Known for her ability to rouse crowds with her takedowns of Wall Street and Trump, Warren promised to “persist.”
Despite the friendly reception that Warren received, retired teacher Carla Hawkins of Council Bluffs was far from ready to commit.
“I’m ready for something good, something better,” she said. “But I still don’t know enough about Sen. Warren. And there are so many others looking into it. It’s too early for me to say.”
High school senior Maggie Bashore said she was curious, but looking for someone younger than Warren, who is 69.
“We need somebody who is focusing on our generation,” Bashore said. “We need someone who knows we’re going to be the ones taking care of the planet.”
Though Warren announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee Monday, Friday’s event had all the trappings of a full-blown campaign.
Warren’s staff logged the names and contact information for those interested in more information.
“I’m here to ask every one of you to be a part of this,” Warren said. “Join us in this because this is about what we can do together.”
Iowa’s caucuses, local political meetings held statewide and run by the party, are scheduled to begin the 2020 nominating campaign in February 2020.
Warren’s visit is an effort to gain an early advantage in the state. Other Democratic presidential prospects are expected to announce their plans in the coming weeks, and have been in touch for weeks with party leaders, activists and potential staff in Iowa.