After a disappointing Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren said she's reassessing her chances for the Democratic nomination. Warren flew back to Massachusetts Wednesday morning to scrum with her team and aides to see what, if any, path remains forward for her presidential bid.
WGBH News' Adam Reilly spoke with All Things Considered anchor Arun Rath about Warren's campaign and what may come next for her. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Arun Rath: I'm no expert, Adam, but I sure can't see a path forward for Senator Warren. What exactly is there for her to discuss or contemplate?
Adam Reilly: I may be wrong here, but my gut tells me that someone or some group of people in the Warren campaign are at least discussing the possibility of, wait a minute, what happens if we get out of this race right now and then in a week or in two weeks, Joe Biden has another, 'Oh my gosh I can't believe he just said that on national TV' moment like he's already had over the course of this campaign. If we stick it out, if we hang around for a week or two or three more, we might be able to become the candidate that people turn to if Biden falters again. My guess is that that argument is being made by at least some Warren advisers.
And then I think there's also the question of if she is, in fact, going to end her campaign, how does she do it? Does she do it with a great big speech, an event that consolidates her role as a progressive leader in the United States? Does she do it with the video? There are some mechanical questions. And then the bigger question of, if she's going to end it, what is she going to get for ending it? For example, if she decides that she's going to stop her campaign and endorse either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, what is she going to get in return? Is she going to get commitments to certain policy priorities? Is she going to get perhaps a promise of a cabinet position if they're elected president? So I think all those things are probably being discussed right now.
Rath: Do you think, though, there's a possibility if she does drop out, that she may not endorse either, because it seems almost like a no win scenario, that she's going to anger substantial portions of people with whoever she endorses?
Reilly: I think you're right. I think that is a realistic possibility. And it will be interesting to see what she decides to do if she gets out. I mean, I think both candidates clearly would love to have her endorsement. But as you said, she's sort of soulmates in a way or maybe to a certain extent with Sanders. They're the ones who have these big ambitious plans for remaking American society. She has said and he has noted, I believe as well, that she is a capitalist. He is not, he does not identify that way. So there's a big difference there. But in terms of their priorities, she's much more on the same page with Sanders than she is with Biden. So she could go that route.
But I think she's someone who wants to have an effect on the way Americans live their lives and the way we order our politics in society. And I think she'd like to know if she takes that risk and endorses in exchange for promises of concrete action, that gets her closer to what she was hoping to achieve through this campaign. She could go the safe route, not alienating anyone by not endorsing. But then what does she get in return?
Rath: Now, Senator Warren didn't just fail to win here in Massachusetts. She finished third, surprising all of us, I think.
Reilly: It definitely surprised me. I mean, a week ago, I thought of this as a two person race before we had Buttigieg and Klobuchar drop out. Obviously, things change fast.
But yeah, it never occurred to me she'd finish third.
Rath: A lot of big trauma last night. And also, Adam, I've been reading that that Senator Warren's unfavorability numbers have been ticking up.
Reilly: Yeah, they have been on the rise, which raises the question of whether she's stable in her role as our senior senator, right?
Rath: Yeah, yeah - I mean, does this affect Warren, all of this does it make her situation more precarious?
Reilly: I was going back and looking at the way her faves and unfaves, as I'll call them, have evolved. In 2018 when she was running for reelection, she disposed of Geoff Diehl, the Republican nominee, pretty easily. Fifty-four percent of people in Massachusetts, according to one poll, had a favorable impression of her, compared to 39-percent unfavorable. You know, not not the hugest margin, but clear daylight between the people who liked her and the people who didn't. Now, last summer, last spring, polls have been coming out showing basically the favorables and unfavorables equal. So they are on the rise.
She hasn't been in public office here in Massachusetts that long. When you run for reelection, you say you want to represent the Commonwealth as a senator and then you turn around and run for the presidency right away. I think that frustrates some constituents. She has also a certain type of Democrat. She's not a conciliatory Dem. She is a fighter for the values that she holds dear. And that turns off, I think, people in the middle of the road.
Now, is she vulnerable? It's hard for me to imagine a Democrat primarying her and the Republicans do not have a good track record when it comes to running competitive races.