Elizabeth Warren’s first visit to San Antonio as a Democratic presidential candidate brought more than 1,000 supporters to the city’s near East Side on Thursday night.
“A full-time minimum wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty,” the Massachusetts senator said during a town hall event at The Espee pavilion, formerly known as Sunset Station. “That is wrong and that is why I am in this fight.”
Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5” played on large speakers as Warren walked out onto the stage after she was introduced by former Democratic opponent Julián Castro. The former San Antonio mayor and U.S. secretary of housing and urban development dropped out of the presidential race in January, endorsing Warren soon after.
“When my campaign was done, it wasn’t a hard decision to support somebody who also believes in an America where everyone counts,” Castro said Thursday. “Progressive ideas hold great promise for this country – but there are progressive ideas and progressive results and only Elizabeth Warren can claim both of those in this race.”
Warren focused her address, which took place less than a week before the state’s Super Tuesday primary elections on March 3, on her plans to root out corruption and the influence of money in Washington, D.C., tax the ultra-wealthy to pay for education programs and end student debt, and “protect democracy” by removing voter suppression laws. Fielding questions from the audience also allowed her to highlight her call for comprehensive immigration reform.
Out of a field of more than 25 candidates, eight remain in the race for the Democratic nomination; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) recently emerged as an apparent front-runner last weekend. In Texas and across the U.S., Warren is polling behind Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former New York Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
“To beat Donald Trump … we can’t have a nominee who just nibbles around the edges of problems, but we also can’t have a nominee who has great ideas but no record for getting it done,” Warren told the crowd.
The “nibblers,” though she didn’t name them, are likely Biden, Bloomberg, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg – whose stances on health care and education are considered less progressive. The latter portion of her comment was directed at Sanders.
“Bernie and I agree on a lot of ideas,” she said, but when they wanted to rein in Wall Street it was Warren that “dug in” to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “We better have a presidential nominee with a track record for getting things done.”
Voters in 15 states and territories will cast their votes on Tuesday – representing a third of the total pledged delegates. Other states and territories will hold primaries and caucuses in the months leading up to the Democratic National Convention in July.
She will continue her town hall tour this week with events in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday and in Houston on Saturday evening at Discovery Green.
During CNN town hall event on Wednesday, Warren said she plans to keep campaigning all the way to the convention – even if she doesn’t get the most delegates.
“A lot of people made $5 contributions to my campaign to keep me in it,” Warren said. “And as long as they want me to stay in this race, I’m staying in this race.”
Carlos Rodriguez from Canyon Lake said his wife, Candace Baker, made the decision to drive to San Antonio to support Warren.
Baker will be supportive of whichever Democrat is on the ballot against Trump, but she likes that Warren has such comprehensive policy proposals. She points to her shirt that reads: “Warren has a plan for that.”
Warren has a large catalog of policy plans – from creating a wealth tax to breaking up “oversized” technology companies – and supports transitioning to a “Medicare for all” health care system that would take three years to fully implement.
Warren’s performance on debate stages also proves that “she doesn’t get rattled,” Baker said.
Baker wishes, however, that the Democratic candidates would put an end to the infighting and “unify the party.”
For Baker, Warren feels like the “Goldilocks” choice between the old and young – the experienced and inexperienced (Sanders and Biden versus Buttigieg).
Rodriguez said he’s disappointed that Warren isn’t doing better in the polls, but “it’s still early … Super Tuesday is next week.”
San Antonian sisters Vanessa and Evie Vizcaino had looked over the crowd from an elevated portion of the pavilion. They posed together to take what Warren called, in jest, “the most important part of democracy: selfies.”
Vanessa said she was an avid supporter of Castro until he dropped out of the race. His immediate endorsement of Warren led her to follow his advice.
“He didn’t wait on it … he knew she was real,” she said. “I also love the fact that she’s a policy wonk.”
Warren, 70, is a former professor at the University of Texas School of Law and bankruptcy attorney who wants to see “big, structural change” in government to favor the working class over the rich.
She has sworn off big fundraisers with wealthy donors and took shots at Bloomberg for his wealth during a recent candidate debate.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against. A billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg,” Warren said. “Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this, Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”
Warren is a “hell of a fighter,” Castro said to applause from the crowd. “You saw what she did with Mayor Bloomberg on that debate stage … now imagine her doing that to Donald Trump.”
A handful of “socialism/Warren” protesters stood outside the rally waving large American and “Come and Take It” flags while chanting, “Four more years.”
Warren ended the town hall with a call to “get in this fight.”
“People are afraid for our nation and people are afraid for our planet and the danger is real,” she said. “When there is so much danger … do we get timid or do we fight back?”
The crowd erupted with applause as it answered her question with the campaign’s chant from earlier in the night: “Dream big, fight hard.”
Warren and Castro remained available for two hours after the rally so camera-ready supporters could exercise “the most important part of democracy” with them.