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Elizabeth Warren, in spotlight, hits 'Late Show With David Letterman'

Elizabeth Warren hits the late show circuit, making a push for minimum wage
A star on the campaign trail, Elizabeth Warren makes her first 'Late Show' appearance, but avoids 2016

Elizabeth Warren has insisted that she will not run for president in 2016, but she is back in the spotlight this week — hitting the campaign trail for vulnerable Democratic candidates and outlining her agenda to help the middle class during her first appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Warren successfully avoided talking about a presidential bid with Letterman on Thursday night, but she made a vigorous push for raising the minimum wage, sharing her own experiences with economic upheaval as a young girl — a compelling story that could set her apart from Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 rival.

While promoting her book “A Fighting Chance” on the CBS show, Warren recounted that her father suffered a heart attack when she was 12 years old, forcing her stay-at-home mom to seek out a minimum-wage job at Sears to pay the family’s mounting bills. “The bottom just fell out for us,” Warren said, noting that the family lost its station wagon and “came about that close” — she said pinching her fingers — “to losing the family home.”

Her mother’s job kept the family together, Warren told Letterman. “I grew up at a time when a person could work a minimum-wage job and it would support a family of three, and that’s what it did — it saved us.”

“Today, a person can work full time at a minimum-wage job and still live in poverty, and I think that’s just fundamentally wrong,” she said to applause.

Warren also shared that story, which is the opening for her book, during an interview earlier Wednesday with Katie Couric of Yahoo News. Hitting a theme that has been central to her political career, Warren told Couric she was stunned by former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s decision to take a job at a Wall Street investment bank right after leaving Congress.

“People work in Washington, and, man, they hit that revolving door with a speed that would blind you,” Warren said. She said politicians like Cantor are not hired for their expertise and insight, “but because they are selling access back into their former colleagues who are still writing policy.”

“This is wrong,” the Massachusetts senator said.

Couric pressed Warren on whether Clinton is too cozy with Wall Street, noting the two have disagreed on some financial regulatory issues like bankruptcy legislation.

Warren did not directly criticize Clinton but didn’t defend her either. “I worry a lot about the relationship between all of our regulators, government, Wall Street,” she said. “I worry across the board.”

Warren has said that she is encouraging Clinton to run, and it seems unlikely that she would challenge the former secretary of State, who is to decide by next year whether she is running.

Still, the senator has shown her appeal as a major draw on the campaign trail for 2014 candidates, particularly among the core left-leaning voters that the Democrats must turn out to maintain control of the Senate this year.

And the group encouraging her to consider a presidential bid, “Ready for Warren,” is pressuring her to at least keep that door open. Last month, the group went so far as to hold house parties across the country on her behalf to build support for a potential candidacy.

With the midterm elections quickly approaching, Warren has campaigned in recent months for Democrats like Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and on Friday she will hit the trail for Colorado Sen. Mark Udall.  She has also raked in cash for Democratic Senate hopefuls like Natalie Tennant in West Virginia and Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader from Kentucky.

As the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro reported last month, Warren has raised more than $3 million this election cycle for other Democrats.

Twitter: @MaeveReston

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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