WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been quiet so far on whom she will support in the Democratic presidential primary, though she's made it clear she plans on endorsing and has met with both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While Warren has teamed up with Sanders in the Senate, she never served with Clinton, who represented New York from 2001 to 2009. But in a 2004 interview with PBS host Bill Moyers, Warren -- who was then still a law professor at Harvard -- talked about how she worked with then-first lady Clinton during the late 1990s to defeat a bankruptcy reform bill in Congress.
Warren wrote a New York Times op-ed in April 1998 arguing that the legislation, pushed by credit card companies, would disproportionately affect women who were trying to collect alimony and child support from their ex-husbands. Clinton saw the piece, Warren recalled, and requested a meeting:
She says, "Tell me about bankruptcy." And I've got to tell you, I never had a smarter student. Quick, right to the heart of it. I go over the law -- it's a complex law -- went over the economics, showed her the graphs, showed her the charts and she got it.
Within 20 minutes she could play where the rest of it would come: "Well then, that will mean this part's happened, that will mean this has happened." I said, "Yes, that's right."
And at the end of the conversation, Mrs. Clinton stood up, she said, "Let's get our picture taken," which we did, and she said, "Professor Warren, we've got to stop that awful bill."
According to Warren, Clinton went back to the White House and urged the administration to oppose the legislation. And in 2000, President Bill Clinton vetoed the Bankruptcy Reform Act.
"In her autobiography, Mrs. Clinton took credit for that veto, and she rightly should," Warren told Moyers. "She turned around a whole administration on the subject of bankruptcy. She got it."
An administration official told The New York Times in 1999 that the first lady was "the principal at the White House who cared most about the fate of the details of the bill."
But as Warren also noted, Clinton went on to support bankruptcy reform legislation in 2001, when she was a senator.
"As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different," Warren said, using the story as a cautionary tale of money in politics. "It's a well-financed industry. ... She has taken money from the groups and, more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency."
That vote has come up during Clinton's presidential campaign. In September, she told a woman in New Hampshire that she backed it in part because of the urging of Vice President Joe Biden.
“When I got to the Senate, I wanted to see some changes so that alimony and child support would be protected, and so I negotiated those changes and then the people who had been handling the bill said, 'Well, if we take your changes, you have to support it,'" Clinton said. "That’s the way the Senate works."
"And so I said, ‘It’s really important to me that we don't hurt women and children, so I will support it even though there are other things I don't like in it,'" she continued. "And it was Vice President Biden, who was the senator from Delaware, and the Republican co-sponsor that I was talking with, so I said I'd support it even though I'd opposed it before."
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