Boston Marathon Bombing, (17 April 2013) Washington, D.C.

Context

Elizabeth (Herring) Warren was born on June 22, 1949 in Oklahoma to a struggling middle-class family. In 1968, she married Jim Warren and raised two children with him until they divorced ten years later. Warren graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in speech pathology from the University of Houston in 1970. After working as a special education teacher, Warren earned her law degree from Rutgers University in 1976 and, in 1992, she became a law school professor at Harvard University, working alongside her current husband, Bruce Mann.1 In 2012, Warren distinguished herself as a Democratic Senator from the state of Massachusetts and a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020.2

Before becoming a senator, Warren served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). TARP was authorized under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and was created, “in the aftermath of the financial crisis to protect taxpayers, hold Wall Street accountable, and help homeowners get back on their feet.”3 Warren’s political career took off after her work with TARP, and this work set a precedent for the issues she would prioritize in her future political career.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) assumed her first term as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts after defeating former Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) in 2012 by an impressive eight percentage points.4 Warren not only unseated a Republican, but also became the first female senator from Massachusetts. In her 2014 book, A Fighting Chance, Warren reflected on her unprecedented rise to the top: “For months now, whenever I met a little girl on the campaign trail, I would bend down, take her hand, and tell her quietly, ‘I’m Elizabeth and I’m running for Senate, because that’s what girls do.’”5 Warren was re-elected to the Senate in 2018 and launched her campaign for the presidency during the 2020 Democratic primary.6

Warren’s 2012 campaign for the Senate largely focused on economic issues as she called for strengthening the middle class and holding large corporations accountable.7 In depicting her own candidacy in A Fighting Chance, Warren wrote that she, “declared a war on the rich.”8 Despite her ultimate success in the election, Warren faced scrutiny because of her past relationship to Wall Street. In a 2011 article from MassLive, Warren was attacked by conservative political action committees (PACs). For example, Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, attacked the sources of Warren’s campaign funding: “Far left professor Elizabeth Warren should get a PhD in hypocrisy for trying to launder Wall Street political cash through DSCC’s [Democratic Senator Campaign Committee’s] war chest while simultaneously leading the Occupy Wall Street movement.” The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan website that tracks campaign funding, refuted this claim, showing that the majority of Warren’s campaign funding came from small donations.9 In addition to economic issues, Warren’s 2012 campaign also focused on such political issues as reproductive freedom and equal wages for equal work.10 After a difficult battle, Warren won the Senate seat and was sworn in on January 3, 2013, by former Vice President Joe Biden.11

On April 17, 2013, Senator Warren delivered her first formal speech on the Senate floor. Despite Senator Warren’s general focus on economic issues, she used this opportunity to address the terrorist attacks during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Two days before she delivered her address, two explosions near the marathon’s finish line killed three people and injured 264. This event is now commonly referred to as the Boston Marathon Bombing.12 In her maiden speech on the Senate floor, Senator Warren remembered those who lost their lives from this tragic attack, praised the city of Boston, and recognized those who came to the aid of the victims immediately after the bombings. At the end of Warren’s address, she called for and received unanimous consent for S. RES.101, condemning the horrific attacks in Boston, and expressing support, sympathy, and prayers for those impacted by this tragedy.13

Warren continued to address U.S. counterterrorism efforts as a presidential candidate in 2020. She addressed the threat of terrorism, for example, in a foreign policy speech she gave in Washington, D.C. at American University on November 29, 2018. Unlike her maiden speech in the Senate, Warren used the campaign speech not only to acknowledge the ongoing terrorist threats, but to also critique past Republican presidents for excessive spending on terrorism that had yet to produce the results she envisioned in 2013. As Warren concluded, “And even with all the blood and money we have spilled, America still faces violent terrorist groups that wish to do us harm.”14

Endnotes

  1. Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2014), 44.
  2. Ian Millhiser, “Elizabeth Warren is Now Leading the 2020 Polls,” Vox, October 9, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/10/8/20905274/elizabeth-warren-frontrunner-democratic-nomination-2020.
  3. “About Elizabeth: U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts,” U.S. Senate, https://www.warren.senate.gov/about/about-elizabeth.
  4. Warren, A Fighting Chance, 270.
  5. Ibid., 266.
  6. Millhiser, “Elizabeth Warren is Now Leading.”
  7. “About Elizabeth.”
  8. Warren, A Fighting Chance, 214.
  9. Robert Rizzuto, “American Crossroads Takes Aim at Elizabeth Warren; Nonpartisan Website Challenges Claim,” MassLive, March 25, 2019, https://www.masslive.com/politics/2011/12/crossroads_gps_again_takes_aim.html.
  10. Warren, A Fighting Chance, 264-265.
  11. “Swearing in of Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),” SenateDemocrats, YouTube, January 2, 2013, video, 0:40, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0sLxEXEi0Y.
  12. Kate Starbird, Jim Maddock, Mania Orrand, Peg Achterman, and Robert M. Mason, “Rumors, False Flags, and Digital Vigilantes: Misinformation on Twitter after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing,” IConference 2014 Proceedings, January 2014, https://doi.org/10.9776/14308.
  13. Elizabeth Warren, “Elizabeth Warren’s Senatorial Maiden Speech,” April 17, 2013, video, U.S. Senate Floor, https://floor.senate.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=560.
  14. Nik DeCosta-Klipa, “Read the Transcript of Elizabeth Warren’s Big Foreign Policy Speech,” Boston Globe, November 29, 2018, https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2018/11/29/elizabeth-warren-foreign-policy-speech-american-university.