Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is expected to be joined at a town hall event in North Carolina on Thursday by Ayanna Pressley, the Massachusetts congresswoman who on Wednesday broke away from her Democratic “Squad” pack to support her home-state senator.
The boost for Warren’s candidacy comes as she has spent the week fending off attacks from former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic rivals — and even from billionaires Bill Gates and Jamie Dimon.
AYANNA PRESSLEY, IN BREAK FROM THE ‘SQUAD,’ BACKS WARREN FOR PRESIDENT
It also comes as Warren has seen a surge in the polls. The newest numbers show her surpassing Sen. Bernie Sanders — the choice of Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — as she now jockeys with Biden for the Democratic Party’s first-place slot.
“This election is a fight for the very soul of our nation. Elizabeth knows how to fight and knows how to win,” Pressley said in a video statement on Twitter. “I’m proud to call her my senator. I can’t wait to call her our president.”
Battles inside and out
The endorsement from Pressley, who like the other Squad members attracts media attention, can help as Warren battles those both inside and outside her party who oppose her estimated $52 trillion “Medicare-for-all” plan — and her proposed wealth tax to pay for it.
As Warren’s poll numbers have climbed, Biden and other 2020 Democrats have responded with ramped-up attacks against her.
In an op-ed published Tuesday on Medium, Biden slammed Warren as an elitist and representative of “an angry unyielding viewpoint that has crept into our politics.” The former vice president said Warren’s “my way or the highway” approach to politics is “condescending to the millions of Democrats who have a different view” regarding what’s best for the nation’s health care system, as well as other issues.
“[Warren’s] my way or the highway [approach is] condescending to the millions of Democrats who have a different view.”
Last week, Warren unveiled a proposal detailing how she would pay for her health care proposal, including a 6 percent levy on fortunes worth more than $1 billion. Warren frequently rails against the ultra-wealthy and has proposed a wealth tax to fund a number of sweeping plans, including Medicare-for-all, canceling student loan debt for the majority of Americans and providing universal child care, which she’s introduced.
Also targeting Warren this week was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who continued her vocal opposition to her 2020 rival’s Medicare-for-all plan.
“’Medicare-for-all’ is a worthy idea and my issue is with how that bill works and the fact that you would kick 149 million people off their insurance in just four years — and I don’t agree with it. And her name is on that bill,” Klobuchar said.
“You would kick 149 million people off their insurance in just four years … I don’t agree with it.”
Klobuchar, who’s seen a boost in energy and fundraising in recent weeks following a well-received performance in October’s Democratic presidential nomination debate, added she disagreed with Biden’s term – “elitist” — to describe Warren’s approach to Medicare-for-all.
Warren has also received pushback from the wealthy.
Jamie Dimon — the JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive who’s worth $1.6 billion – became the latest Wall Street executive to criticize Warren, saying the senator “uses some pretty harsh words” that “some would say vilifies successful people.”
In an interview on CNBC this week, Dimon also said Warren’s proposed Accountable Capitalism Act would change the “complete nature of how you run a corporation.” Warren introduced the measure in April as a way to make it easier to criminally charge and jail corporate executives for alleged abuses by their companies, pointing out that no CEOs were prosecuted after the financial crisis.
“I think we have to look at [how] America was founded on free enterprise; freedom and free enterprise are interchangeable,” Dimon told CNBC. “If people have very specific things that we should do different, then we should think about doing them different.”
Warren fired back in a tweet, saying that “Dimon and his buddies” were successful because of “opportunities, workforce and public services that we all paid for,” and therefore should pay more in taxes.
“The fact that they’ve reacted so strongly—so angrily!—to being asked to chip in more tells you all you need to know,” Warren said. “The system is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon doesn’t want that to change. I’m going to fight to make sure it works for everyone.”
‘I’m starting to do a little math’
Then on Wednesday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, during the New York Times/DealBook conference, took issue with Warren’s proposed wealth tax and questioned how willing she would be to “sit down with somebody you know who has large amounts of money” to hear their point of view.
Gates said he does not agree with Warren’s stance that billionaires should not exist at all in the U.S.
“Maybe I’m just too biased to think that if you create a company that’s super-valuable, that at least some part of that, you should be able to have – a little bit for consumption, and hopefully the balance to do philanthropic things,” Gates said.
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“I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes, I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” he continued. “If I’d had to have paid $20 billion in taxes – fine. But, when you say I should pay $100 billion, OK, I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”
Warren said on Twitter she was always happy to sit down with people who don’t share her opinions, adding that Gates would not have to pay as much as $100 billion under her plan.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Adam Shaw, as well as Fox Business’ Megan Henney and Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.