DETROIT - Sen. Elizabeth Warren insists she's not running for president in 2016. But the Massachusetts Democrat can't help but be tempted, after receiving thunderous applause from true-believing liberal activists.
At the annual Netroots Nation convention Warren served up a heaping plate of Democratic-friendly rhetoric to the uproarious crowd of political activists. "Run, Liz Run" chants greeted Warren as she took the stage
Warren recalled battling big financial institutions after the 2008-09 financial crash.
"They spent more than a million a day for a year lobbying against financial reform," she said. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "has already forced the biggest financial institutions to return more than $4 billion to consumers they cheated."
"If we push back hard, we can win."
Big corporations "use their money and their connections to try and capture Washington, and rig the rules in their favor," Warren said. "Just look at the big banks - they cheated the America people, crashed the economy and got bailed out. And now their even bigger."
She also called for more infrastructure investment - a popular them in economically-battered Michigan.
Her message gibed with the income inequality theme now popular in Democratic circles.
"The game is rigged and it is not right," Warren said to sustained applause. "We can fight about it, we can whimper about it, or we can fight back. I'm fighting back."
The freshman senator made a name for herself as a pugilistic populist unafraid of battering Wall Street with progressive rhetoric. She has been stumping for a number of Democratic candidates ahead of the 2014 midterms.
Warren, a former Harvard Law professor and scourge of the banking industry, has consistently said she wants to focus on what's happening in the Senate. And on supporting Democratic candidates running for the 2014 midterm elections, she says.
Polls continually show former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polling data from March 6 through June 30, the majority - 65% - want Clinton to be the Democratic nominee. Vice President Joe Biden came in second with 11.7%, followed by Warren with 7%.
Still, an independent group has sprouted up to support Warren just in case she jumps in. Ready For Warren - a name that's a clear play off of pro-Hillary Clinton political action committee Ready For Hillary - has launched the campaign with a website, Facebook page and Twitter account.
Many Netroots attendees suggested Warren could best serve in the Senate. Rep. Gary Peters - a Democratic Senate candidate - recalled meeting Warren as a freshman member of Congress, where she was discussing financial abuse by the big banks.
Peters lauded Warren for running for the Senate after being blocked as head of the new Financial Consumer Protection Bureau, created, in the wake of the 2008-09 economic meltdown.
Critics contend Warren is far too liberal to appeal to a national electorate. She also came under fire in her 2012 Massachusetts Senate campaign for having once listed herself as Native American to secure law school teaching jobs.