Elizabeth Warren is first Democrat to form 2020 exploratory committee

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Monday that she is forming a presidential exploratory committee, a key step toward a 2020 bid and a move that puts pressure on potential rivals.

Warren’s campaign released a highly produced, four-and-a-half-minute video that blasts Republican economic policies and focuses on her fights for government regulations that protect consumers. The move was unusual in that it was done in New Year’s Eve.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” Warren says in the video. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”

Democrats may have their largest field in decades, with candidates seeking the opportunity to challenge President Donald Trump. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is one of many who have said publicly that they’re considering a run.

Warren’s announcement raises the stakes for Klobuchar, said Hamline University political science professor David Schultz. 

A USA Today/Suffolk University Poll in mid-December showed that 54 percent of Democratic voters haven’t heard of Klobuchar, by far the highest percentage of any of the nine candidates polled. Just 15 percent of Democratic voters said they were excited about a Klobuchar bid, while 13 percent said she shouldn’t run.

“She has a lot of ground to make up. She has a lot of work to do,” Schultz said. “Now that Warren has declared, you’re going to see a whole bunch of other Democrats feel they have to declare much earlier than they did before.”

Warren has her own challenges, according to the USA Today/Suffolk Poll. While 27 percent of Democratic voters said they were excited about her running, 33 percent said she shouldn’t run. Warren is one of three Democratic candidates to be underwater with party voters, along with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Warren has sparred with President Trump, most notably over her Native American ancestry. The president has repeatedly referred to her as “Pocahontas,” leading Warren to make public the results of a DNA test that revealed a distant ancestry.

Notably, Warren’s promotional video includes just three seconds of video of President Trump. One video clip plays as Warren says “corruption is poisoning our democracy.” 

In the other, Warren says Republicans are quick to point fingers “at anyone who looks, thinks, prays, or loves differently than they do.” An image of U.S. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – who this week will become the first Somali-American in Congress – is shown over Warren’s scripted line