Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., greets a protester at a rally in 2017 calling on Congress and the White House to produce a recovery plan for hurricane victims. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Elizabeth Warren was elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts in 2012 with a populist message and a determination to take on corrupt systems and institutions that she said favor the wealthy while taking advantage of the poor.
After winning a second term in November, the onetime law professor from Oklahoma is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election.
Warren promises a platform to challenge the status quo on behalf of working families that she said have been forgotten by the Trump administration.
"I am in this fight because I believe that government is working for the rich and the powerful. I believe that Washington is corrupt, I see it firsthand," Warren told reporters at the Massachusetts State House. "That's what pulls me in, that's why I'm in this fight and I'll be out talking to people about this around the country and hearing from them."
On climate change, she supports a Green New Deal, a package of proposals aimed at reducing the effects of global warming. She wants public companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions.
On higher education, Warren wants to make public colleges free and eliminate tuition costs for many students.
She supported the Affordable Care Act and wants to limit insurers' profits while expanding healthcare subsidies and tax credits. She supported the Medicare for all bill brought by Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., calling it a "goal worth fighting for."
Warren blames much of the country's economic inequality on U.S. trade policy. She didn't support the old NAFTA deal but she said the new agreement with Canada and Mexico doesn't do much for U.S. workers either. U.S. trade policies are especially harmful to farmers, she said.
Warren is part of the Senate Armed Services Committee and wants to reduce U.S. military presence around the world. She called for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in November. She also supports pulling troops out of Syria, one of the few issues she and President Donald Trump agree on.
"It is right to get our troops out of Syria," Warren said. "It's right to get our troops out of Afghanistan. The defense establishment needs to explain what they think winning in those wars looks like and where the metrics are. We're now 17 years now in Afghanistan."
On Tuesday, Warren visited Puerto Rico where she sympathized with victims of Hurricanes Maria and Irma and blasted the Trump administration's response to the disasters.
The storms killed an estimated 3,000 people, a number Trump has disputed.
Warren said it's "insulting" and "disrespectful" for Trump to consider reallocating relief money from Puerto Rico to the southern border wall project.
"Even now, even after the Trump administration has denied how many died, and has dragged its feet on sending adequate disaster relief funds, the president of the United States has doubled down on the insult by toying with the idea of diverting your recovery funds to build a wall," she said.
The senator has been a target for Trump, even before she announced that she's forming an exploratory committee to challenge him for the presidency. Trump challenged her long-held claim that she was of Native American descent and dared her to take a DNA test. He would often call her Pocahontas as a joke, saying she used the native ancestry claim to get ahead in her career as a college law professor. When she did take a DNA test last year, it revealed she did have a native ancestor 6 to 10 generations ago.
She recalls hearing stories about being part Cherokee as a child but never asked for documentation.
She proudly tells the story of her family as she campaigns. Growing up in Oklahoma City, her father worked blue-collar jobs. When he had a heart attack, her mother got a minimum wage job at Sears.
Warren helped out by waiting tables at her aunt's Mexican restaurant at age 13.
The same minimum wage job her mom worked wouldn't be enough for families to save their home today, Warren has said.
Warren was a state debate champion, graduated high school at age 16 and started attending George Washington University on a scholarship.
She became a bankruptcy lawyer and saw how many middle-class Americans were affected by rules that burdened families, inspiring her to make a change.
She taught law at several universities, including Harvard University. In 2008, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed Warren to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel, which oversaw $700 billion in bank bailouts. She demanded accountability from banks throughout the process. In 2010, then-President Barack Obama appointed Warren to be assistant to the president and special adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she worked on Dodd-Frank reforms.