Elizabeth Warren surges on flattering profiles, pundit praise

Elizabeth Warren is having a media moment.

A whole bunch of them, actually.

From two glowing profiles to pundit praise, the Massachusetts senator is increasingly being touted as the main threat to Joe Biden.

Any presidential candidate who rises in the polls starts getting good press. But there are two underlying reasons behind Warren's media surge.

One, political reporters want a contest, not a Biden coronation. Simple as that.

Two, many political journalists and commentators are more enamored of Warren's liberal politics. Biden is simply too moderate for them, too incremental in his approach.

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Remember how most of the prognosticators predicted he would sink like a stone because he was too out of touch with the party's progressive wing?

Having been embarrassed by Biden's dominance, they'd love the vindication of seeing him fade — and the wokeness of the Democrats not nominating a white male.

Still, you have to credit Warren on several fronts. After a slow start, she is moving up on the basis of hard work. She is doing it with substance, a wonky, I-have-a-plan-for-that approach. And her success belies the fact that she’s not a natural politician — she first ran for Senate at age 62— or a scintillating speaker.

Even President Trump, who had written off the woman he insists on calling by a denigrating nickname, noted her progress by saying of Kamala Harris, "Pocahontas is cleaning her clock."

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Warren has a long way to go. The new Fox News poll has Biden at 32 percent, Bernie Sanders at 13 percent and Warren at 9 percent.

But in a South Carolina poll, Biden now leads Warren 37 to 17 percent, with Bernie tied for fourth at 9 percent. Most of her gains have been at Sanders' expense.

Politico weighed in by reporting that Trump's reelection campaign is "setting its sights on a new target," Warren, who "threatens to cut into the president’s blue-collar base."

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Well, the campaign would be guilty of malpractice if it didn't prepare for Warren as a possible opponent. But to its credit, Politico gets on-the-record quotes from Trump pollster John McLaughlin, who says: "Although our own early published polls and internal polls discounted Elizabeth Warren, her recent momentum in May and June in national and early caucus and primary states into a strong second place to a flat Joe Biden is a cause for our campaign's attention. Senator Warren's attacks on President Trump's policies need to be rebutted."

The New York Times Magazine posted an amazingly positive profile yesterday, filled with such passages as:

"For her entire career, Warren's singular focus has been the growing fragility of America's middle class. She made the unusual choice as a law professor to concentrate relentlessly on data, and the data that alarms her shows corporate profits creeping up over the last 40 years while employees' share of the pie shrinks ...

"As a presidential candidate, Warren has rolled out proposal after proposal to rewrite the rules again, this time on behalf of a majority of American families ...

"Her grand overarching ambition is to end America's second Gilded Age."

The only notes of skepticism involve how well Warren can sell herself: "She's still thinking through how she communicates her ideas with voters." And when author Emily Bazelon asked how she felt running against her friend Bernie: "'You know, I don't think of this as competing,' she responded. It was the least plausible thing she said to me."

The New Yorker also does the big-picture profile, headlined: "Can Elizabeth Warren Win it All?" The focus: "Her plans to fight outsized wealth."

Author Sheelah Kolhatkar said on "Morning Joe" that Warren is "slowly plodding away and winning people over," in part by "ignoring the identity politics, the social justice stuff."

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Axios fans the flames with the headline "Joe Biden has an Elizabeth Warren problem." She is "well-positioned to undermine Biden, win or lose ... Biden's people are worried about her rise, and feel they caught a break in not having to face her in the first debate." And: "President Trump has told people he thought he killed her campaign with his 'Pocahontas' smear and that he's surprised by her resurgence."

It could be that this is a turning point for Warren overtaking Biden, or she could well remain back in the pack. What's clear is that she'll get an extra boost from a media establishment that likes her and her politics.