“I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news,” Senator Elizabeth Warren told the overflow crowd outside Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium on Sunday, February 23. “The bad news is there’s no more room inside. The good news is there’s no more room inside!”
By way of apology, Warren spoke briefly with some of the hundreds of would-be rallygoers who were turned away from her first Colorado appearance since last April, answering questions on public lands, health equity and money in politics. Then the Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential hopeful headed back inside and took the stage before a capacity crowd of 3,800 fired-up supporters, sending a defiant message as the Democratic primary enters a crucial ten-day stretch.
“You have a decision to make,” Warren told the crowd. “When so much hangs in the balance, are you going to pull back? Are you going to be timid? Or are you going to get in the fight? Me, I’m fighting back.”
Colorado and thirteen other states will cast their primary votes on Super Tuesday, March 3, when more than a third of the remaining delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be allocated. Warren, who finished third in the Iowa caucuses on February 3, has struggled to break through with voters since then, placing fourth in both the New Hampshire primary and the February 22 Nevada caucuses. She remains fourth in the overall delegate count, well behind frontrunner Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But Warren’s supporters are hoping that her fiery performance at last week’s Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas — most notably her harsh criticism of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s history of sexual-harassment allegations and support for controversial policies like stop-and-frisk — may have re-energized her campaign.
“Some of you may have noticed we had a little debate on Wednesday night,” Warren said to cheers. “Since that debate, we’ve been feeling this energy across the country.” Her campaign has raised $9 million from more than 250,000 donors since then, she said.
In Colorado, Warren’s campaign has also been buoyed by endorsements from at least nine Democratic state lawmakers, including Senator Faith Winter, Senator Mike Foote and Representative Dominique Jackson. She announced another round of endorsements from state and local officials ahead of her February 23 visit, and became just the third candidate, after Sanders and Bloomberg, to air TV ads in Colorado ahead of Super Tuesday.
“We’re being told that this thing is over and done with,” said Senator Kerry Donovan, a Democrat from Vail and one of the first Colorado officials to endorse Warren last year. “We will not be silenced. We will not be told that we don’t belong in this race.”
Though she faces an uphill fight to win the nomination, Warren told the crowd at the Fillmore that she had been in similar positions before. As a professor at Harvard Law School, she advocated in Washington for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
“I started getting two responses: The first response is, ‘Huh, that’s a good idea,’” Warren said of her initial meetings with members of Congress. “And the second thing everybody said was: ‘Don’t even try.’ Don’t even try, because you’ll be up against Wall Street, you’ll be up against all the big banks, you’ll be up against all the Republicans, and shoot, you’ll be up against half the Democrats. You cannot get it done. I heard them, and I thought what they were saying was, ‘Fight harder.’”
Warren touted the broad coalition of unions, consumers' groups and other advocacy organizations that came together to support the establishment of the CFPB, authorized by the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill in 2010, as a model for her vision for how to make "big structural change" happen. That history of advocacy and coalition-building is what helped her win the support of Colorado Senator Julie Gonzales, a longtime community organizer from Denver who was elected to the legislature in 2018.
"I've spent more time protesting at the Capitol than I have working inside of it," Gonzales told the crowd as she introduced Warren. "One day I decided to step up and serve my community in a new way, and I ran and won as part of the Blue Wave. And that's what intrigues me so much about Elizabeth Warren: She has been doing the work since before she was elected to office."
As she pitched the crowd on her plans for a 2 percent wealth tax, a Green New Deal, comprehensive immigration reform and a gradual path to Medicare for All, Warren made the case for herself as the best candidate both to propose the sweeping changes that the party's progressive base is clamoring for — and to battle hard to get them done.
“If we don’t get everything we want on the very first vote, you know me," she said of health-care reform. "I'll take the win, and then I’ll get up the very next day and fight for more."
“I am running a campaign based on a lifetime of fighting for working families,” Warren added as the rally came to a close. “I am running a campaign from the heart. Because I believe in you, and I believe in the America that we can build together.”