Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said four times Monday that she's not running for president, period — or, maybe, make that an exclamation point.
During an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep
on Monday, he asked Warren four times if she was running for president, and each time she responded, "I am not running for president."
And finally, on the fourth time around, when Inskeep pointed out that she never said "never" about running, Warren became frustrated by the question, and replied, "I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?"
Instead of seeking the presidency, Warren said she is putting all of her energy into the fight that started last week in Congress over the $1.1 trillion spending bill being sent to President Barack Obama's desk for a signature this week.
She strongly opposed the bill and its pro-Wall Street provisions, and believes the bill sets up many dangerous precedents heading into the New Year.
There is a growing push for Warren to enter the race for her party's nomination as a challenge to more-moderate Hillary Clinton.
On Friday, while the battles raged on over whether to pass the controversial spending bill, more than 300 of Obama's former campaign
staff members issued a letter calling on her to run.
"We want someone who will stand up for working families and take on the Wall Street banks and special interests that took down our economy," the staffers wrote, pointing out their success at getting a virtually unknown Obama elected to office.
In addition, reports The Washington Post
, the liberal organization Moveon.org said it plans to spend at least $1 million to draft Warren, even though she says she does not want to run and now serves in a spot in the Senate Democratic leadership.
Warren told NPR that she wants to stay in the Senate and keep up her fight against Wall Street, and she continues to strongly oppose the spending bill, which carried a rider to remove a provision of the Dodd-Frank law that requires banks to create subsidiaries to do their trading. The spending bill addition allows banks to do their own financial trading.
Warren complained Monday that the provision was slipped into the spending bill, and while it was discussed in the House, it was not introduced in the Senate.
"Let's keep in mind about this provision, this is a provision that Citigroup lobbyists literally wrote," she told NPR.
"And then, just to make sure that everybody got the point, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, personally made phone calls to House members to push for this change. I think that tells you what was really going on here."
The change will allow banks to "take riskier bets," Warren said, and if they lose, "they want the U.S. taxpayer to bail them out. I think that's a bad idea."
The matter is complicated, she said, but "whichever way you think is the right answer here, I know for sure that this shouldn't be slipped into an omnibus spending bill — a bill that must pass in order to keep the government open."
And further, adding such provisions to must-pass spending bills could mean "pretty soon we have no financial regulations at all," Warren said.
However, while Warren fought against others in her party about the bill, she told NPR that Obama and other Democrats were also opposed to the Dodd-Frank provision, which came as a part of the compromise to get the bill passed.
But once the bill got to the Senate, there was little more that could be done with the legislation than pass it, Warren told NPR.
"Once the House passed an omnibus bill with this in it and threw it over to the Senate — and then the House left town — at that point, there was very little choice but either to pass the omnibus, even with this thing in it, or shut down the government," Warren said. "And we didn't want to shut down the government."
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