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Elizabeth Warren On Hillary Clinton And Running For President

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talked about 2016 to WBUR's Here & Now: "What I care about is that everyone who runs for president, who runs for any national office right now, talks about this core set of issues."

No one in politics today is hearing more calls from progressives to run than Elizabeth Warren, the popular and populist Massachusetts senator. Warren, though, denies any interest in the presidency and continued to do that Monday in an interview with Jeremy Hobson on WBUR's Here & Now.

"I'm out here fighting this fight," Warren said. "I'm fighting it every single day in the United States."

Asked if she wants to run, Warren said bluntly, "I do not."

That doesn't mean Warren won't have an impact on 2016 or Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

"What I care about is that everyone who runs for president, who runs for any national office right now, talks about this core set of issues about what kind of a country we are and what kind of a future we're building. For me this is really personal."

She also said she won't challenge Chuck Schumer to be the Democrats' top Senate leader and all but endorsed the New York Democrat, whom some on the left have accused of being too close to Wall Street.

On the issues, Warren warned about burgeoning banks.

"The financial institutions that were too big to fail in 2008 — are you ready for it?" she quipped. "They're about a third bigger now."


Interview Highlights

Who is at fault for the 2008 financial crisis?

Well, let's face it. The biggest financial institutions loaded up on risk and they did it in two ways. They sold mortgages to people all across this country that were designed to explode and ... they knew it at the time they were selling it. ... Each little mortgage, it was almost like [financial institutions] selling grenades with the pins pulled out and then putting them in big packages and selling boxes of grenades with the pins pulled out. ... The regulators ... looked the other way while the banks did it. The banks were raking in the profits doing this and the regulators in effect were saying "Hey. La, la, la, I can't hear you. There's no problem here."

Did the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which Warren headed) — in the Dodd-Frank banking regulation bill — work?

That agency has really worked. Here it is, it's only been up and running about four years now, it's already forced the largest financial institutions to return about $5 billion directly to customers that they cheated. It's returned homes to service members who banks had cheated them out of. It's helping level the playing field but don't kid yourself, the financial institutions that were too big to fail in 2008 — are you ready for it? They're about a third bigger now than when they ...

Why is that?

Money talks. Never forget that. Especially in Washington, boy is that the message. The biggest financial institutions, remember what they did? First they load up on risk and they manage to get their regulators to look the other way, they crash the economy, they get a bailout from the American taxpayer and then they turn around and instead of saying, "We're sorry; we did this the wrong way," instead they started spending more than $1 million a day, lobbying against financial reforms, trying to weaken them as much as possible.

On interest in running for president

I'm working on those ideas, I'm pushing those ideas forward, I'm fighting for those ideas, every single day.

But you don't want to run, still?

I do not.

Do you think it will be better for the party though if Hillary Clinton has a challenger in the primary?

Now, come on. Hillary Clinton has not declared.

Do you think it would be better if she sails through the nomination or if she has a challenger from the left?

What I care about is that everyone who runs for president, who runs for any national office right now, talks about this core set of issues about what kind of a country we are and what kind of a future we're building. For me this is really personal.

Interested in being Democratic leader in the Senate?

Nope.

Not interested?

Nope.

On Chuck Schumer

I think it's pretty clear that Chuck is going to be a leader ... and I talk about this in my book that Chuck was one of the first people to support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to get out there and fight for it. I remember the very first press conference that he helped put together where we brought this idea up and then got out there and started fighting for it. He's been there on the front lines.

He's not too close to Wall Street?

Look, I worry about everyone being too close to Wall Street, let's be clear. When you're talking about Wall Street the wind only blows from one direction and that's Wall Street's direction, Wall Street's money, but there are people who have said, "I'm gonna fight for middle class families; I'm gonna get out there and make this happen." Chuck was very much there on the consumer agency setting it up, building it, protecting it, very much there ... on student loans ... on Social Security ... these are powerful issues and we fought side by side. I think he's going to be terrific on that.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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