Sen.-elect Warren is monosyllabic

Keeps answers to a few words


CANDIDATE ELIZABETH WARREN was known for giving lengthy answers to the even the simplest of questions, often joking that she had not yet mastered the political skill of speaking in digestible bites.

Senator-elect Warren on Thursday had no such problem, explaining to reporters that she felt she had to be more “discreet” now that she is off the campaign trail.

Standing with Gov. Deval Patrick, Warren hosted her first formal press conference since being elected. She brushed aside many questions with short, sometimes abrupt answers. She declined to specify committee assignments she would seek, or how she thought negotiations over spending cuts and the deficit should be handled.

Reporters caught up with her after a second meeting with House Speaker Robert DeLeo when she offered an explanation for her brevity.

“All I can say is I was a lot more discreet as a candidate than I was in real life,” she said, according to the Boston Globe, before turning to an aide and asking, “Can I say that? Maybe it’s indiscreet to talk about discretion.”

Warren visited the State House Thursday where she met for nearly an hour with Patrick in his office before popping in on DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, Treasurer Steven Grossman, and Auditor Suzanne Bump. Patrick hosted a similar meeting with Sen. Scott Brown not long after Brown was elected to the US Senate in January 2010.

“It’s wonderful to be here today.  I am grateful for the good counsel of the governor.  I’m looking forward to being a good partner in Washington for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to working closely with Governor Patrick,” Warren told reporters, as she stood next to Patrick in his office suite.

With potential cuts to defense spending that could be detrimental to the Massachusetts economy under consideration in Congress, Warren said “across the board cuts are bad for the military and they are very bad for the work done here in Massachusetts.”

“We have an opportunity to reshape our military spending so that it fits our needs internationally and that may mean cuts in some areas,” Warren said. She continued, however, by adding, “We may need to do more spending on issues such as research and development and cyber security,” which she said is a strength in Massachusetts.

Asked about Republican leaders’ stated opposition to increased taxes on high-income earners, the new senator said only, “I assume these are early negotiations.” Warren made the issue of eliminating tax breaks for upper income earners a staple of her campaign.

On the topic of the lame duck Congress attempting to strike a deal over the looming “fiscal cliff,” Warren said, “Right now the parties are involved in negotiations.” She later repeated that negotiations “should take place as they are” when asked if there was a role for her to play before she gets sworn into Congress in January.

One reporter asked whether her staff would reflect the strength of women and minority voters who turned out to vote for her on Tuesday. Warren said, “Of course.”

And when asked how she felt about women showing up in strong numbers at the polls and New Hampshire voters electing an all-female delegation, she said, “I’m glad.”

It wasn’t until she had been prodded several times by questions about female support and the record number of women elected to the US Senate this cycle – 20 – that Warren elaborated. Her first response was, “I’m delighted.”

“Let’s get serious here. This is 2012 and we’re talking about 20 percent of the U.S Senate is female. That’s not an overwhelming number, yet. I don’t have to remind anyone in this room women are half the population, so I think we’re on the right trajectory but there’s still a lot of work to do. That fact that in this campaign and in the Congress there were debates about equal pay for equal work, over insurance coverage for birth control tells us that there’s still a lot of room to travel here,” Warren said.

Warren declined to specify which committees she would like to serve on in the Senate, indicating that she would “continue” talking to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about assignments, and said she would open an office in western Massachusetts. She also said she was looking for a staff that was “smart,” “thoughtful” and with experience inside and outside of government.

Asked about the possibility of quickly becoming the state’s senior senator if Sen. John Kerry gets appointed to become Secretary of State, Warren heaped praised on Kerry.

“Sen. Kerry is an enormously talented man and a dedicated public servant. I have no doubt that he would make and extraordinary secretary of state, but he right now is making tremendous contributions to our country through his work in the United States Senate,” Warren said.

Asked what advice he gave Warren, Patrick said, “I’ve never been a senator,” prompting the question of whether he’d like to be one. “No,” he said laughing.

Meet the Author

Matt Murphy

State House News Service
“The reason that Elizabeth Warren won I believe is because she came with real conviction to the campaign and if she brings that conviction to service then it will be a great thing for the Commonwealth and the country and I think she will.”