Elizabeth Warren Has One Less Challenger and a Viral Video

Elizabeth Warren has only been in the Massachusetts Senate race – her first for political office – a short time, but she has already drawn some high-profile praise from President Obama’s top adviser, the scorn of conservative talk radio and been featured in a viral video in which she launches into a thoughtful defense of government.

And today brought the news that Warren has one less primary competitor. The Boston Globe reported that Newton Mayor Setti Warren (no relation to Elizabeth Warren) will announce Thursday that  he is dropping out of the Democratic primary.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is trying to raise some money off recent attacks Rush Limbaugh has thrown at the Massachusetts Senate candidate. It sent out an email to supporters today asking them to open their wallets in response to Limbaugh’s saying Warren had a “perverted, corrupt point of view.”

“There are two things I know for sure: When Rush Limbaugh attacks, you must be doing something right. And you must stand up to those attacks,” the email reads.

“If we meet our 5,000-contributor goal before midnight Friday, when we file our first public fundraising report, we can show the world these attacks only make us stronger – and we’re already 2,763 contributions toward our goal.”

Limbaugh also called the Harvard professor and consumer advocate a “parasite,” all in response to a video of Warren at a house party in Andover, Mass., in August when she was testing the waters around the state before officially entering the race.

The video of Warren passionately refuting the idea that taxing the wealthy means Democrats are encouraging “class warfare” went modestly viral on YouTube and has been cited by liberal activists.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” Warren said.  “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea: God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

The message has enraged Republicans, but it’s encouraging to Democrats who see her passion as the way to beat Republican Sen. Scott Brown, although she has to win a crowded primary first.

Spokesman Kyle Sullivan said the message highlighted in the video “is why she’s running for the U.S. Senate.”

“Elizabeth is speaking from the heart about the fight she’s waged her whole life to even the playing field so working families and small businesses get the opportunity to get ahead,” Sullivan said in a statement.

The passion and fire Warren shows in the video is a clear contrast to Democrat Martha Coakley, whom Brown surprised by defeating last year in liberal Massachusetts. Coakley was criticized during her failed campaign for lacking passion.

Massachusetts Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said Warren couldn’t be more different as a candidate and “it’s exactly the kind of message people are looking for this year in the general and in Massachusetts.”

“Until [Elizabeth] Warren got in, the Democratic Party in Massachusetts and the party nationally was looking for the person to take that fight to Scott Brown,” Marsh said. “This year people are looking for that kind of fight and people are seeing Elizabeth Warren and Democrats nationally are starting to see that in Barack Obama and in both case it’s been well received.”

Marsh adds that Warren’s message combats the Republicans’ criticism that she is a Harvard professor not in touch with the average Massachusetts voter.

“When you see that video, it certainly undercuts all the complaints made against her that she is an elitist and out of touch,” Marsh said. “It’s a very passionate and populist defense: We got into this together, we need to get out of this together. Not only will it appeal to Democrats, but I think it will appeal to independents as well, which is key to winning the vote here.”

A source close to the Warren campaign describes her passion as Warren just “being who she is.”

“She’s talking the way she has done throughout her career and that’s not going to change,” the source noted, adding that she has got enthusiastic responses throughout her time on the trail so far.

Obama had a similar message to Warren Monday evening at a fundraiser in Los Angeles when he revved up the celebrity-filled crowd by taking on the GOP’s “class warfare” charge.

“If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber is class warfare, then sign me up,” Obama said. “I shouldn’t be paying a lower effective rate than a teacher or a firefighter or a construction worker.”

Republicans have criticized the president’s $3 trillion long-term, deficit-reduction plan released last week that relies on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, to which Obama was responding.

One of the president’s chief advisers gave somewhat of an endorsement to Warren Tuesday. David Axelrod told the Boston Herald that he expects Warren will be the candidate that takes on Brown.

“Elizabeth Warren, who I expect will be the nominee, [is] someone I know well, and there probably isn’t a person in America who’s fought harder for the embattled middle class in this country than she has,” Axelrod said. “When you combine that with the nature of Massachusetts, I think you’ve got the makings of a really, really competitive race and one about which I’m really hopeful.”