2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren draws thousands at St. Paul rally

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren argued for a wealth tax and major changes to the U.S. immigration system during a speech to thousands of supporters Monday evening at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Warren’s first visit to Minnesota during the campaign came days before rival Bernie Sanders is scheduled to visit. The appearances of Warren and Sanders signal that Democrats think the home state of fellow candidate Amy Klobuchar will be in play during the March 2020 primary.

Warren’s campaign promoted her event as a town hall, but the Massachusetts senator quickly ended the idea that she would take questions from the large crowd. Instead, she mixed a retelling of her life story with a push for change during her 51-minute speech.

“We’re not going to make change with one statute over here and a couple of (regulations) over here and a little change over here,” Warren said. “If we’re going to fight back it’s going to take big structural change. You ready for that?”

In St. Paul, Warren did not mention the apology she made earlier Monday to Native American groups for repeatedly claiming Native heritage. When reporters asked her about it afterward, Warren said her apology “was a statement from the heart.”

Warren said she was committed to improving the relationship between the federal government and tribal nations.

During her speech, Warren advocated for the creation of a 2 percent tax on the assets of Americans who are worth at least $50 million. 

Warren has said the tax will raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years, a claim FactCheck.org has questioned. Warren said the new revenue would provide free college for all U.S. students, forgive student loan debt, and more.

“I’m not doing this because I’m cranky,” Warren said. “Pitch in two cents so everybody else has a chance to make it in this country.”

On immigration, Warren said she would expand options for people to legally enter the U.S., provide a path to citizenship for all people who are in the country illegally, and increase aid for Central American countries where many migrants are coming from.

Many of the first people though the gates at Macalester scrambled for small pockets of shaded areas, where they waited for more than two hours for Warren.

The candidate stayed for more than two hours after her speech, taking photos with supporters. The line to take photos stretched longer than a football field.

Warren’s campaign has scheduled an additional Minnesota event for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Warren will participate in a roundtable on criminal justice in Minneapolis.

President Donald Trump lost Minnesota narrowly in 2016 and has repeatedly said he plans to make a play for the state, which has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972.

Warren told reporters her message would resonate in Midwestern states like Minnesota.

“I think the core message that we’ve got a Washington that works for the wealthy and well connected but it’s not working for anyone else is something people get, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans or independents,” she said.

Sanders is scheduled to visit Minneapolis on Saturday for a fundraiser at the Hook and Ladder Theater. Additional details about the visit were not immediately available.