As Challengers Line Up, Liz Warren Says “We’re Ready” For 2018

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By Stephanie Murray

GREENFIELD — As the Republican National Committee sinks significant resources into Massachusetts and targets U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2018 campaign, Warren and her supporters say they are up to the challenge.

“We’re ready,” Warren told reporters at a town hall on Sunday.

The GOP is looking to weaken Warren, a critic of President Donald Trump and a potential 2020 presidential opponent, the Boston Herald reported last week.

“I think that ultimately, what’s going to happen in Massachusetts is about people,” Warren said. “People in Massachusetts get out, we fight.”

In addition to taking aim at the GOP, Warren covered clean energy, student loan debt, Medicare and Social Security, among other issues at a town hall in Greenfield. South Hadley Rep. John Scibak took a swing at the RNC, which says it will soon install a state director and staffers in Massachusetts to coordinate 2018 Republican campaigns and remain through the 2020 presidential race. Peru Rep. Paul Mark also attended the town hall.

“Bring ’em on,” Scibak said. “The reality is they must think this is a force that needs to be dealt with. We know, and they’re afraid. And that’s why, bring ’em on. We’re ready.”

Warren spoke to hundreds who filled the Greenfield Middle School auditorium. More than 100 others spilled into the gym to watch her speak. The group swayed and sang “This Land is Your Land” as they waited for the event to begin. Some donned pink knit hats made popular at the Women’s March on Washington.

Warren was at home in largely liberal western Massachusetts. Former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won three of four western Mass. counties in the 2016 primary. The group hissed at a mention of the incident when Majority Leader Senate Mitch McConnell stopped Warren earlier this year from reading a letter by Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor earlier this year.

Warren faces opposition in Republican candidates Rep. Geoff Diehl, John Kingston, and Beth Lindstrom and independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai.

Ayyadurai, an MIT graduate and Cambridge resident who claims to have invented email, said Saturday that political parties are “rigged machines, money-making machines, for themselves” and told his supporters that he wants to be a candidate for others who feel the same way.

In Greenfield, Warren told the crowd, “This is our moment in history where we are being asked to decide what kind of country we’re going to be going forward. This is a moment where democracy is being tested.”

Warren expressed concern over voter suppression, gerrymandering, voter ID laws and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Warren also criticized pro-corporate judges and said the attacks on the press from the president and the alt-right have pulled mainstream media to the right.

“Donald Trump and the Republicans … are just hacking away at the democratic foundations of our country,” Warren said. “The good news is that democracy is rewiring itself.”

Warren pointed to the GOP’s ongoing effort to repeal and replace Obamacare that stalled out earlier this year. She attributed that Democratic victory to those who spoke out, posted to Facebook or Twitter, called a lawmaker or attended a rally.

Regulation and investment

Warren said the $1.4 trillion Americans owe in student loan debt is “morally wrong” and “despicable.” She called for support of public universities and community colleges, and said money invested should be given with the goal of keeping tuition affordable. Student loan debt is impacting the economy, making it more difficult for graduates to move out, buy homes or start small businesses, Warren said.

“We’ve got to forgive some of this debt and get ourselves on a better path,” Warren said.

Warren said regulation and progressive taxation are the keys to easing income inequality. Though gross domestic product keeps going up, Warren said, the top 10 percent of Americans have been the only people reaping the benefits of income growth since the 1980s. The country runs on “who puts money in Washington,” Warren said.

Regulation and public investment are key components of bringing long-awaited broadband to the hill towns in the western part of the state.

“Nobody participates in the 21st century economy without broadband,” Warren said.

The senator advocated for “sensible gun safety laws” in the wake of a shooting that killed more than two dozen people in a Texas church in early November. She pointed to more robust background checks and a “no fly, no buy” policy that would ban gun sales for suspected terrorists on the government’s no-fly list as solutions.

“Our children are dying in the streets every day,” Warren said. “Today is the right day to talk about gun safety.”