Last Friday, I asked Roger Lau, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign manager, whether Warren would stay in or pull out if she lost on Super Tuesday. Lau said without hesitation, “We have a plan to go all the way through.”
“This is going to be a long race,” he added, noting that Warren was in 31 states, with a ground game and organization like no other. He said that after Super Tuesday, no candidate would have the delegates needed to win at the convention. “I’m confident we’re going to be fighting for delegates all the way through.”
Given the tumultuousness of this week, I kept playing back the tape of my interview with Roger Lau.
Lau, from Queens, is a fighter who publicly admits he took a wrong path earlier in life, but discovered himself in politics, working first for Sen. John Kerry and then for Warren. He rose through the ranks as a staffer, then found himself leading a national campaign, which included more than 100 Asian Americans speaking out and backing Warren.
They all saw her as the “progressive voice” who could back it up and win.
And then came the week that was Warren’s undoing.
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden, and the black vote rushed in and filled out the limp balloon that was the vice president’s campaign. The pull outs of Buttiegieg and Klobuchar, who both endorsed Biden, added more wind, and it all lifted Biden over Bernie Sanders in the majority of Super Tuesday states.
It was the Clyburn factor for sure, but it was also that thing I’ve called “Berniephobia” at work again–moderate and traditional Democrats coalescing to find someone who could defeat Trump faster than the coronavirus.
It also became evident that when the path was cleared, no one thought Warren was that person. She wasn’t consistently an alternative choice. She even lost her home state, coming in third in the Massachusetts primary.
In addition, despite the large AAPI presence in the Warren campaign, exit polls showed 54 percent of the Asian American vote went for Sanders. He still may win the biggest prize in California, but they’re still counting.)
When the choice of AAPIs in American Samoa—Michael Bloomberg–dropped out and threw his support to Biden on Wednesday, it was inevitable.
Warren announced yesterday that she was out of the race.
I didn’t hear back from the Warren campaign, on or off the record.
So what now?
The results suggest Warren only siphoned possible votes from Sanders—not the moderate Democrats in the race.
Time for the switch to Sanders?
Warren could let all the progressive moderates, mostly white educated women in the suburbs, know that Bernie is her guy. Bernie needs those kind of voters.
Warren could be a version of Rep. Clyburn—for Bernie.
The pressure’s on before next Tuesday. when the big prize is Michigan. And then other big states like Illinois will vote the following week.
Whatever Warren does will be revelatory for her and her supporters. Norman Solomon, a former associate of mine and a Bernie supporter, noted that for much of the campaign, Warren has criticized big money politics and corporate power in politics. Solomon likes to hold politicians to their rhetoric and recently quoted a Warren speech she gave to the California Democratic Party nine months ago: “When a candidate tells you about all the things that aren’t possible, about how political calculations come first…they’re telling you something very important—they are telling you that they will not fight for you.”
Warren’s appeal was that she had some fight, and she had some answers. But remember her health care plan that got picked apart? Disaster.
But how does she want to be remembered in 2020? As a fighter? Or as someone who made a political calculation?
It’s tough when the big money politics go with Biden, who went into Super Tuesday with little money and lots of questions about his past.
But then came Clyburn and the black vote filling up that Biden balloon.
Maybe this year’s race isn’t about issues and ideology worth fighting for. We’re not looking for FDR’s “New Deal.” We just don’t want a raw one.
It’s as if we don’t want change so much. After the devastating backward motion of the Trump administration, we just want a return to normal.
That means a restoration of our political class, to a day when people discussed and debated their differences. Not like Rush Limbaugh, whom Trump awarded with the highest civilian honor during the last State of the Union Address. Limbaugh’s style was to take out an opponent’s knee. Normal was fighting hard, then working together. Political sportsmanship. Fair play.
That’s all gone, thanks to Trump.
Now it seems most people have realized Trump’s in a boat all his own. And the rest of us are in a fallen ship. We just want to make it right, not head to uncharted waters.
Asian Americans have made it clear. As Roger Lau said, we’re speaking out. This year, Sanders has been the one to draw the majority of us out in an interesting coalition with Latinos and young voters.
When I last talked to them, Warren’s Asian American supporters were still backing her. Will she back them now with all her hope? Or will she fall into line, and turn down their volume?