ELKHART — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, running to become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020, held her first campaign stop in Indiana on Wednesday morning at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart.
With Indiana's primary still 11 months away, Warren was using her trip here and in Michigan a day earlier to tout new policy proposals to create new jobs and develop a bigger green sector to help combat climate change.
"I wanted to be here, in particular, because I have another plan, and this is a plan to produce about 1.2 million new jobs here in America," Warren said.
Many of those would be manufacturing jobs, according to the senator.
"What better place to come and talk about that than right here," she said.
Many Democrats have pointed to a lack of effort in Midwestern states, Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, as a reason Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Candidates such as Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg claim that their Midwestern backgrounds could help win such states in 2020, and Warren's two-day tour could signify that other candidates will put sharper focus on the region as well.
Warren, who lives in Massachusetts, spent time talking about growing up in Oklahoma, with brothers serving in the military and a hardworking father who suffered a heart attack, and how that affected her family as they fought to pay the bills and keep their house when he couldn't work.
Her mother, Warren said, joined the workforce earning minimum wage and was able to provide for her family.
"It's the story of millions of people across this country," Warren said. "You take care of the people you love."
But it was different then, she said, because a full-time minimum-wage job at the time could support a family of three.
"Today, a full-time minimum-wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong, and that is why I am in this fight," Warren said, to a rousing ovation.
She said the government is working great for drug companies, prisons and oil companies but not for people with a prescription, families torn apart by the criminal justice system and those affected by climate change.
"That is corruption, pure and simple," she said.
To change that, Warren wants to "end lobbying as we know it," by blocking the so-called revolving door between big corporations and Capitol Hill.
She would give unions more power to fight for workers so big companies have less power.
Warren is also suggesting an additional 2% annual tax on wealth above $50 million and 3% on wealth above $1 billion.
"I am tired of free-loading billionaires," she said.
With the money, Warren would pay for universal child care for children 5 and younger, universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, and higher wages for child care workers and preschool teachers.
She said the tax would also pay for tuition-free public technical school, community college and four-year college and cancel student loan debt for 95% of borrowers.
As for the 1.2 million new jobs, Warren is connecting manufacturing to fighting climate change, saying her plan starts with dealing with what she called a climate crisis.
That is going to take science, innovation and new products, made by American workers, Warren said. To make that happen, she is proposing spending $400 billion over 10 years on clean energy research.
"Any company that wants to use that research has to make the product that comes from it right here in the United States of America," Warren said.
Over the same time, Warren would make the government buy $1.4 trillion worth of clean energy products for its own use and for export. She would also spend $100 billion to help other countries buy American clean-energy products.
In an event labeled a community conversation by the campaign, Warren took three questions after her speech.
One person asked how Warren would bring access to abortion in Indiana.
Warren said that since Roe V. Wade, Democrats have been playing defense while Republicans have chipped away at abortion access. When abortions are illegal, she said, women will still get them, but under worse conditions, especially for those with low incomes.
She said she would take a more proactive approach than has been done so far.
"Stop depending on the courts. I want to go straight to the legislature, straight to Congress, and say, 'Let's pass a strong, robust Roe v. Wade and enforce it all across this country," Warren said.
Another person asked what qualities Warren would look for when potentially nominating a new judge for the Supreme Court.
"I want someone who believes in the law," Warren said.
She added that she would like the court to become less political and instead stand for individuals and what's right.
According to Warren's campaign staff, 600 people attended the Elkhart event, which was Warren's 94th of its kind during her presidential campaign. Warren said she believes Indiana is the 20th state she has campaigned in.
In introducing the candidate, local party chairman Chad Crabtree said he was very excited to see a presidential candidate in Elkhart County.
"Typically, as many of you know, Indiana is one of the flyover states, but it's nice that Senator Warren realizes the importance that every vote makes a difference, and every vote counts," he said.
After the event, hundreds of people waited in line to get a photo taken with the senator, including Linda Peterson.
"I'm here today to hear what Elizabeth Warren had to say and hear more about her plans," said Peterson, who expects to vote in the Democratic primary, though she said she hasn't made a decision on which candidate will get her vote.
"I especially like her position on undoing some of the terrible Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, and dealing with gerrymandering and guaranteeing one person one vote," she said.
Peterson was born and raised in Elkhart but now lives in Plymouth, she said. She liked that Warren used her trip to Elkhart to talk about manufacturing and how that is connecting to combating climate change.
"I love the idea of her green-energy manufacturing, growth in that economic area," she said.
Jared Schooley, who is a political affairs intern with The Borgen Project that works to works to reduce poverty worldwide, said he would like Warren to support the Global Fragility Act in the Senate.
"I might also want to get some information on her new green industrial policy that she just put out, and get an idea of how that's going to affect not only Elkhart but the world at large," Schooley said.
He said that in 2016 he was involved with Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign to become the Democratic nominee for president, but that Warren has some similar qualities that are making him rethink where to place his support this time.
"I feel that same sort of energy I felt with (Sanders) in the room, with her. I feel that her ideas are bold and progressive. I feel like the fact that she has so many plans is very heartening to hear," Schooley said.
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