Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, came out swinging hard against Republicans in her first speech at a Democratic National Convention.
After declaring that "the system is rigged" against the middle class, Warren directed her attack straight at the GOP: "The Republican vision is clear: 'I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own.' "
Warren, one of the most lively speakers at the convention Wednesday, warmed up the crowd ahead of the evening's keynote address by former President Bill Clinton. She has become one of the Democratic Party's rising stars after being tapped by President Obama to shape the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that emerged as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by Obama in 2010 in the wake of the financial collapse that led to the biggest banking bailout in American history.
A victory by Warren in Massachusetts could potentially determine whether the Democrats retain control of the Senate next year. She is facing off against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who won a 2010 special election over Democrat Martha Coakley to take the seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for almost 47 years.
Democrats are defending 23 seats in the Senate in this election (compared with 10 GOP seats). They currently control the Senate with 51 outright seats plus 2 independents who tend to vote with them (Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont).
Warren, whose Senate campaign has been plagued by controversies such as the dispute about her alleged status as a native American, didn't play any defense in her speech. She attacked:
"Republicans say they don't believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people.
"No, Gov. Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama."
Warren went on to lambaste oil companies for taking subsidies, billionaires for paying lower tax rates than their secretaries and Wall Street CEOs, who she said wrecked the economy and destroyed jobs yet "still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them."
While Warren pulled no punches, she also offered no evidence to support her claims. She backed up her arguments with anecdotes from her own middle-class upbringing and those of unnamed people she has met, such as a construction worker who was unemployed for nine months, the head of a manufacturing company worried about rising costs and a student struggling to repay college loans.
"I'm here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth -- the game is rigged against them."
As she wound down her speech, Warren invoked the memory of Ted Kennedy, who she said understood the call to act and to help each other. She then asked Americans if they are ready to answer that call and she concluded by saying:
"Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I'm ready. You're ready. America's ready."