Elizabeth Warren says, ‘No, thanks’? Well, of course she does


The Washington Post

Elizabeth Warren pledged last week to finish out her Senate term and pass on a 2016 run for the White House.


I have no idea whether Warren, D-Mass., has any intention of running for president, but we’re not going to learn anything from her claims to the contrary at this point. When it comes to presidential runs, watch what people do, not what they say.

That requires figuring out what each prospective candidate would be doing if she were in fact running. Sometimes that’s easy: Visits to Iowa and New Hampshire are a traditional, obvious giveaway. Sometimes it’s high-profile speeches. Sometimes it’s a book; that was the tip-off that Texas Gov. Rick Perry was running in the 2012 cycle despite multiple denials.

The point is that it may differ depending on the nomination-battle context, such as whether there is already a strong front-runner, and the prospective candidate’s situation (whether she already has national name recognition, whether she needs more of an introduction to important party actors, etc.).

The key is that the penalty for denying a White House run and then making one is approximately zero. Yet there may be perceived penalties for saying “I don’t know” or “yes,” even for candidates who at this point are definitely running. Prematurely declaring a run is a good way of raising expectations, which might be good for relatively obscure candidates, but that is often not what higher-profile candidates want. Or politicians just might find answering the question constantly an annoying distraction, and a clear, firm “No” is the best way to duck some of that. At least until the next candidate-like action, when it’s bound to start up again.

At this point, there’s an excellent chance that Warren herself has no idea whether she will be a candidate in 2016. But it’s clear that she has very little to lose by denying it now. There’ll be plenty of time to figure out what she’s up to.

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics.

Special to The Washington Post

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • The vibrancy of today’s American literature

    Sales at American book stores rose a measly 1 percent in 2013, according to trade accounts. It remains unclear whether that sluggishness — sales of ebooks have also tapered off — truly represents a further chipping away of the importance of books in our culture.

  • Kansas, the KKK and hate without end

    The news that a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan is suspected of shooting and killing three people near Jewish community centers in Kansas seems at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present. Americans like to imagine that the KKK belongs to a long-gone South and anti-Semitism to a distant 20th century. Sadly, this better reflects a naive faith in the nation’s history of religious tolerance than the realities experienced by many religious minorities. Although the KKK has evolved and its membership has dwindled, it remains part of an American legacy of religious intolerance.

  • Don’t let Jeb Bush’s moderation confuse you

    Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category