Photos capture how Elizabeth Warren rose from a nearly broke Midwestern upbringing to a top Democratic presidential contender — and Wall Street's worst enemy

Reuters/Rachel MummeyDemocratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on a campaign swing through Fairfield, Iowa.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has forged a political identity as a fighter who wants to level the playing field for the American middle class.
  • Now she is seeking the presidency, centering her campaign on a progressive vision to tilt the economic scales of power away from corporations and the rich.
  • Warren’s life trajectory has taken her from the prairies of Oklahoma to the classrooms of Harvard Law School and finally into the halls of Congress.
  • Here’s how Warren rose from a nearly broke Midwestern upbringing to a top Democratic presidential contender – and Wall Street’s worst enemy.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has forged a political identity as a fighter aiming to level the playing field for the American middle class. First a respected academic, Warren started rising to national prominence after the 2008 financial crisis. When she arrived to Washington, she blasted the lack of government accountability for the banks and financiers that nearly caused an economic meltdown.

Then she ran for the Senate in 2012 and won a competitive race against Republican incumbent Scott Brown, becoming the first female senator to represent Massachusetts.

Now she is seeking the presidency, centering her campaign on a progressive vision to tilt the economic scales of power away from corporations and the rich.


Read more:
‘I’ve got a plan’: Elizabeth Warren’s running as the policy wonk candidate and her poll numbers keep going up

On the campaign trail, she regularly talks about a critical juncture in her childhood: her mother’s decision to get a minimum-wage job answering phones at Sears.

In the 1960s, Warren’s father suffered a heart attack. He then lost his job as a salesman in Oklahoma City, and their options were very limited. Suddenly, the Warren family risked losing their home and were on the brink of financial ruin.

She credits her mother’s minimum-wage job with keeping the family out of poverty, which gave them the money to pay the bills and stay afloat during hard times. She pointed out that a similar job could support a family of three then.

“It’s a story about government. And about no matter how hard you work, the rules made by the people in government will still make the big difference in your life,” she said at a presidential candidate forum earlier this year.

Here’s how Warren rose from a nearly broke Midwestern upbringing to a top Democratic presidential contender – and Wall Street’s worst enemy.


Elizabeth Warren was born Elizabeth Herring in Norman, Oklahoma on June 12, 1949. Growing up, her family called her ‘Betsy.’

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren as a baby.


Source: The New York Times


Warren had three older brothers, all of whom later served in the military.

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren and her family in Oklahoma.

Source: Biography


A brilliant student, Warren skipped the sixth grade. And the family later moved to Oklahoma City so she could attend a better school.

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren’s third-grade yearbook photo.


Source: The New York Times


In the 1960s, Warren’s father suffered a heart attack and lost his job. Warren credits her mother Pauline’s decision to get a job at Sears with rescuing her family from financial ruin. Warren said: ‘That minimum-wage job saved our home, and my mother saved our family.’

Courtesy of the Warren campaign

Source: The New York Times, CNN


By the age of 16, Warren was the state debate champion and graduating high school. She enrolled at George Washington University that same year on a debate scholarship and had a desire to become a teacher.

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren and a high school debate partner in 1966.

Source: Biography.com,CNN


Warren dropped out of GW during her sophomore year to marry her high-school boyfriend. She later graduated from the University of Houston, moved to New Jersey and gave birth to her first daughter Amelia in 1971.

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren and daughter Amelia.

Source: The New Yorker, Biography.com


In 1980, Warren married her second husband, Harvard Law School Professor Bruce Mann. After earning her law degree, Warren went on to teach law at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School among other schools.

Courtesy of the Warren campaignElizabeth Warren and her husband Bruce Mann.

Source: CNN


Warren spent much of her academic career researching why Americans filed for bankruptcy. She found most financial victims were middle-class families who had faced a devastating personal event: job loss, divorce, or health problems. Her research overturned traditional ideas of who experienced financial hardship and why.

Leif Skoogfors/Corbis via Getty ImagesWarren teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s.

Source: The Boston Globe


Lawmakers in Washington began relying on Warren’s financial expertise and she travelled there to testify on various bills. During the 2008 financial crisis, she was appointed to head the panel overseeing the $US700 billion bailout fund, known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty ImagesElizabeth Warren, Chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP, takes her seat to testify before the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Source: The New Yorker


As head of the bailout fund, she criticised Obama’s Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner for not doing more for small businesses and homeowners impacted by the financial crisis. In his memoir, Geithner said Warren’s oversight hearings resembled ‘made-for-YouTube inquisitions rather than serious inquiries.’

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPanel Chair Elizabeth Warren (L) speaks during a hearing before the Congressional Oversight panel, which was created to oversee the expenditure of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), December 10, 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Source: The New York Times Magazine


The financial crisis deepened Warren’s view that there needed to be a federal agency charged with protecting consumers from predatory lending and other fraudulent practices. Then President Obama appointed her to help set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in September 2010.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty ImagesPresident Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren making their way to the Rose Garden on September 17, 2010.

Source: TIME


When Obama passed her over to lead the CFPB, Warren returned to Massachusetts to run for the Senate against a Republican incumbent in 2012. Her opponent lambasted her ‘elitist attitude’ and called her ‘anti-free enterprise.’

Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesDemocratic candidate for senate Elizabeth Warren held an 11th-hour campaign event in Dorchester, Massachusetts in November 2012.

Source: TIME


But Warren came from behind to win 54% of the vote, becoming the first female US Senator from Massachusetts.

Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesElizabeth Warren takes the stage for her acceptance after beating incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Brown at the Copley Fairmont November 6, 2012 Boston, Massachusetts. The campaign was highly contested and closely watched and went down to the wire.

Source: The New York Times Magazine


Warren’s time in the Senate cemented her image as a policy wonk. She continued pushing for greater transparency from Wall Street and introduced a bill on student loan reform. She also passed bipartisan bills that have become law, including one that reduced the amount of unused prescription drugs and another that increased returns on investment for the retirement accounts of federal workers.

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesU.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) listens to testimony from witnesses during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on ‘Mitigating Systemic Risk Through Wall Street Reforms,’ on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Source: Biography,Business Insider


In one memorable hearing, Warren called Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf ‘gutless’ for his handling of a fake bank account scandal. She also demanded Stumpf’s resignation.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty ImagesSenator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, questions John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, as he testifies about the unauthorised opening of accounts by Wells Fargo during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 20, 2016

Source: CNN


Warren briefly considered a 2016 presidential run before opting out. In the Democratic primary, she supported former Secretary of State Hillary over Sen. Bernie Sanders. Warren later delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to and meets Ohio voters during a rally at the Cincinnati Museum Centre at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, June 27, 2016

Source: Biography


During the Trump presidency, Warren has fiercely opposed many of the administration’s policies on immigration, healthcare and the economy. But she’s also been critical of the Democratic party’s approach, saying: ‘Far too often, Democrats have been unwilling to get out there and fight.’

RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty ImagesSenator Elizabeth Warren speaks before a march across Boston Commons during the Boston Women’s March on January 21, 2017

Source: The New York Times Magazine


Last year, Warren was criticised for taking a DNA test to prove she had distant Native American ancestry. She apologised, and went on to win reelection in the Senate.

Sarah Rice for The Washington Post via Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren addresses the crowd at the Massachusetts Democratic Coordinated Campaign Election Night Celebration in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Sen. Warren was re-elected

Warren formally announced her candidacy in February. She called for “fundamental change” for working people and blasted the Trump administration as “the most corrupt in living memory.” Shortly after, she promised to not hold private fundraisers with wealthy donors or accept money from lobbyists.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty ImagesDemocratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a campaign stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on May 16, 2019

Source:

The New York Times


Warren is campaigning on a stream of policy ideas that would remake the American economy. She’s rolled out over 20 detailed policy proposals on taxes, student loans and universal child care, many of them on Medium. Her campaign has embraced the slogan: ‘I have a plan for that.’

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a campaign rally at the University of Iowa on February 10, 2019 in Iowa City, Iowa

Source:

The New York Times


To pay for her sweeping plans, Warren proposed a wealth tax of two per cent on assets worth $US50 million or more on the top 0.1% of American households. Two U.C. Berkeley economists estimated it would generate $US2.75 trillion in revenue over a decade, though some experts say those figures are optimistic. Polls show a majority of people support the idea, including half of Republicans.

Daniel Acker for The Washington Post via Getty ImagesPresidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), centre, speaks during an interview following a campaign event at Rivers Bend Bed & Breakfast in Iowa Falls, Iowa on May 3, 2019


Source:


The New Yorker


Defending her wealth tax, Warren says the wealthy have a responsibility to the middle class: “Remember, you built that fortune in America, where the rest of us helped pay for the education of all your employees, where the rest of us helped pay for the roads and the bridges so you could get your goods to market, where the rest of us helped pay for the police and the firefighters who were there to keep you safe.”

Scott Olson/Getty

Source:

The New Yorker


Warren steadily rose in the polls through the spring, propelled by a stream of policy plans that have forced her rivals to try and keep up. Its also helped Warren stay in the news and increase her fundraising. Her campaign raised just over $US25 million in the first two quarters of 2019.

RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a town hall meeting at Florida International University in Miami, Florida on June 25, 2019.

Source:The New York Times, Business Insider


Warren essentially laid out her campaign’s organising principles in her opening statement of the first Democratic primary debate in June: “When you’ve got a government, when you’ve got an economy that does great for those with money and isn’t doing great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple. We need to call it out. We need to attack it head on, and we need to make structural change.”

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

Source:

The New Yorker


Warren’s momentum continued after the first debate and she cemented her position in the top-tier of candidates with strong fundraising. People have turned out in droves to hear the Massachusetts senator pledge government initiatives in housing, education and the economy.

Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesAttendees applaud and hold up phones and signs during a town hall event held by U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren at the Peterborough Town House in Peterborough, NH on July 8, 2019

Source:Los Angeles Times, The New York Times


At the July Democratic primary debate, Warren and Sanders tag-teamed against moderates like John Delaney onstage to defend their progressive ideas. She also doubled down on her universal healthcare views, saying, “I’m with Bernie on Medicare for All.”

Lucas Jackson/ReutersSen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren shake hands before the start of the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019.

Warren has made it a point to take selfies with her supporters, viewing it as a way to connect with voters as she builds a grass-roots movement. “Selfie-lines” are common at her campaign stops, and her campaign estimates she’s taken over 38,000 pictures so far.

REUTERS/Gretchen ErtlDemocratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greets supporters at the New Hampshire Democratic Party state convention in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. September 7, 2019.

Source:

The New York Times


Warren emerged largely unscathed after the September Democratic primary debate, the first time she shared a stage with the race’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. He slammed her on supporting Medicare for All, but Warren delivered forceful defences of her progressive policies.

REUTERSElizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden at the third Democratic debate.

Source:

Business Insider

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