Warren ‘open’ to marijuana legalization, coy on VP
By State House News Service | September 3, 2015, 9:22 EST
Written by Andy Metzger
BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday did little to dampen speculation about what a recent meeting with Vice President Joe Biden might mean for her role in the 2016 presidential election.
The state’s most high-profile Democrat also left the door open to potentially supporting a proposed ballot question that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
“I’m open to it. I think we’ve learned more. A couple of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use,” Warren said, encouraging more scientific study on the plant and drug whose possession can earn offenders time in federal or state prison. Massachusetts voters in 2008 decriminalized possession of less than an ounce, legalized use for medical purposes in 2012, and could be asked whether to legalize use for non-medical reasons in 2016.
Warren, who has unequivocally and repeatedly disavowed any intention of running for president next year, reportedly met Biden at his Naval Observatory residence on Saturday, Aug. 22, as the vice president considers entry into the 2016 presidential race.
“We talked about policy. We talked about what’s happening to America’s middle class. We talked about the direction that this country has been going in. We talked about the capture of this country by those who’ve got money and power. It was a good long ramble-y conversation,” Warren said. Asked if there was any talk of a “joint ticket,” Warren dodged, saying, “It was a long conversation.”
Warren said that she had met with other declared Democratic candidates for the presidency, including her Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and frontrunner in the primary. Former U.S. Sens. Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb have also launched longshot bids.
During an interview before an audience at Suffolk University Law School, Warren, who has recently declined opportunities to say whether she will run for re-election in 2018 also declined reporter Josh Miller’s offer to pledge to serve out her entire term – though she made no noises about an early departure.
“I love my job. I truly love this job, and it’s all I’m thinking about and you just can’t put a different thought in my head,” Warren said. Reminded of a December 2013 statement where she said she plans to serve out her term, Warren said, “There’s nothing that has changed in my thinking around this.”
Warren also said, “I imagine” she would endorse one of the contenders in the Democratic primary.
A former Harvard Law School professor who drew on her humble Oklahoma beginnings in her successful 2012 campaign for U.S. Senate, Warren did take the opportunity to espouse the virtues of fast food.
Often the subject of labor and health grievances from the left, fast food chain restaurants are ubiquitous and offer a consistent and affordable menu throughout the country.
“I think fast food is actually a good thing. It is dependable. You know it’s going to be there. You’re going to get those calories and be ready to go,” Warren said, affirming that she continues to eat at McDonalds, Taco Bell and also eats at Chipotle. “I’m for it. No matter how miserable life is it’s made better by french fries with salt.”
The Cambridge Democrat told Miller that she attended the meeting with Biden after he called her twice and said she had a lunch of chopped salad.
At the Political Happy Hour event, named for Miller’s afternoon newsletter, Warren sipped from a water bottle – a departure from Gov. Charlie Baker’s earlier Political Happy Hour appearance in which he drank beer.
Warren said she prefers light beer as an after-hours beverage. When Miller posed a similar question to Baker, he said his drink of choice is water, intimating that name-checking any other beverage would cause displeasure among the makers that did not receive the governor’s endorsement.
Among Republicans in the Senate, Warren said she has worked with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah, on banking matters; and worked with U.S. Sen. James Lankford, of Oklahoma, on efforts to make federal government court settlements public.
A bankruptcy expert, Warren espoused on one of her signature initiatives to make college more affordable and defended the Affordable Care Act, which endured major technological problems with the law’s health care exchanges both in Massachusetts and nationally.
In 2012, Warren defeated former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who was in office when the law was passed in 2010. Wednesday evening, Warren touted provisions of the law that she said allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance for longer, prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with existing medical ailments and offer seniors a free annual health exam. Warren also said the law has resulted in “millions and millions of people today” who are insured who were not prior to its passage.
In 2012, Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, was hobbled in his ultimately unsuccessful bid for the presidency because of a leaked video that showed him claiming that 47 percent of the country are “dependent upon government” and will vote for Obama.
Warren, who argues that the system of government is “rigged” for the wealthy, took aim at a smaller section of the population on Wednesday, saying, “This economy runs today for the top 10 percent.”
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