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Waiting for Elizabeth Warren in Watertown

A group of local residents met last week in Watertown to talk about supporting Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren – if she announces her run for the U.S. Senate.

Harvard Law School professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren has been traveling around the state recently, meeting with Democrats and progressives to test the waters for a possible candidacy for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. The winner of the Democratic primary would run against incumbent Scott Brown in 2012.

Even though Warren hasn't declared yet, a small group of people met in a home in Watertown last week to discuss her candidacy, and how to support her, if she announces, which is widely expected to happen within a week or two.

"The best place I found to learn about Elizabeth Warren is on YouTube," says Richard Marcus, a real estate agent and longtime Watertown resident, who hosted the meeting of about a dozen people from Watertown, Belmont, and Waltham. "You can type 'Elizabeth Warren' and get 10 to 15 videos of her speaking on different issues."

Warren, who lives in Cambridge and teaches at Harvard, became nationally known last year when she went to Washington to help monitor the TARP (Troubled Asset Recovery Program), commonly known as the "bank bailout." She was critical of many of its policies. Early this year, she set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but then was passed over when its first director was hired.

"I'm a realtor, so I know all about 'specialists,'" says Marcus. "And there are a lot of them in Washington, lobbying for businesses and banks. The middle class doesn't have a specialist – I think Elizabeth Warren would be a lobbyist for the middle class."

Marcus was motivated to hold the meeting through The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an online political action group that has reportedly raised $100,000 for Elizabeth Warren and says it has almost 70,000 volunteers ready to help her.

Since Warren is not a candidate yet, though, the Watertown meeting was quite informal, with no fund-raising or formal agenda. Attendees asked for information about Warren and also shared their opinions about the upcoming campaign (see quotes below).

One suggestion that drew approval was for a presence at the Faire on the Square on Sept. 24, to distribute information about Warren.

And the general question was broached whether she can raise enough money to go head-to-head with Senator Brown, if she wins the Democratic nomination.

"I think Democrats at the national level are just waiting for her to announce," said one participant.

"Whoever the Democrats nominate, I'm going to support them," Marcus emphasized. "But I think (Warren) has the best chance (of winning) and is the best qualified."

Other comments by attendees at the meeting:

  • "I'm interested in hearing her opinions on issues that she'll have to address as a Senator."
  • "She warned about the housing loan crisis before anyone else – so she must have something on the ball."
  • ”I was impressed with how she pulled off the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
  • "She has the name recognition and can raise the money."
  • "I'd like to see a woman in a national office from Massachusetts." (Offered by a man.)
  • "She's better with finances than (President) Obama and the rest."
  • "She needs to announce next week."

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