'We are being tested,' Sen. Elizabeth Warren tells crowd in Glendale

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) played the role of therapist, sports coach and motivational speaker Saturday during a talk to a loud and friendly crowd in Glendale during her national book tour.

The populist former Harvard law professor gave what amounted to an extended pep talk and lecture, encouraging members of the audience to get involved in local politics and to organize protests against President Trump’s administration. Her new book is titled “This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.”

In return, some in the crowd shouted for Warren, a popular figure with the progressive left wing of the party, to run for president in 2020, sparking mass applause.

But Warren did not use her appearance at the Alex Theatre to launch a presidential campaign. Instead, she told the audience that the country was being “tested” by Trump’s rise to power.

“We are being tested about what kind of people we are and what kind of a future we want to build,” she said. “I think of this truly as a test of our character and, the way I think of it, is that the character of a country is not the character of its president.”

Warren’s profile rose this spring when Senate Republicans silenced her as she began to read a letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986 criticizing Trump’s attorney general pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Warren was barred from speaking on the Senate floor until after Sessions was confirmed.

The scene, which occurred just as Black History Month began, went viral and has made Warren even more a star on the left at a time when Democrats are searching for a national identity that could redeem their losses in 2016.

A comment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about Warren and the incident — “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless she persisted.” — made it onto T-shirts overnight.

It is now a kind of a tagline for many protesting Trump. Many sported the phrase on shirts, bags and buttons Saturday.

Warren, the mastermind behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, rose to national prominence as a loud populist voice when the Occupy Wall Street protests swept the nation in 2011. She was elected to the Senate when she defeated Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.

Warren told the audience to call their local representatives and take to the streets as Trump’s agenda continues to roll out.

Asked if Trump’s tax plan could be stopped by protests, Warren pumped up the crowd declaring, “I think we can kill it off.”

Warren’s first question came from a mother who asked for advice raising her daughter in the era of Trump.

“You get out there, you get engaged … your little girl will pick that up,” she said. “The power is not at the top; the power is right here. It is with us.”

javier.panzar@latimes.com

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