ST. PAUL, Minn. ― Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) on Monday drew what her campaign said was the largest crowd of her presidential campaign tour yet, attracting thousands of energized supporters to her town hall at Macalester College.
“Hello, Minnesota!” the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful shouted as she took the stage Monday evening. “Dang, it is good to be here.”
Though the event was billed as a town hall, it more closely resembled a rally once Warren announced the audience Q&A portion of the event would be scrapped given the massive turnout. Her campaign estimated 12,000 people were in attendance.
A volunteer with the grassroots organizing group Minnesota for Warren told HuffPost that the event was scheduled to be held in the college’s field house but was moved outside given the large number of people who RSVP’d.
During the rally, Warren focused on three major actions she plans to take if elected president: Tackle corruption within the government, make structural changes in the economy and protect American democracy.
“If you want to get something done, you ought to have a plan for it,” she said, repeating a line that has become a mantra for her campaign. “Believe me, I plan to get something done.”
She drew raucous applause when she discussed her proposed wealth tax, which would impose a 2% tax on fortunes worth more than $50 million and a 3% tax on fortunes worth more than $1 billion.
The tax would affect about 75,000 families and raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years, according to University of California, Berkeley, economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, who worked with Warren on the proposal.
With money raised from the wealth tax, “we can provide universal child care for every baby in this country [and] raise the wages of every child care worker and preschool teacher in America,” Warren said. She added that the tax would result in a $50 billion investment in historically black colleges and universities and the cancelation of student loan debt for 95% of borrowers.
“This is our moment in American history,” she said. “This is our time to decide where this country goes. This is our chance to rescue our democracy. And how do we do it? We get organized. We build a grassroots movement. We persist. We dream big. We fight hard. We build the America of our best values.”
The town hall held at the private liberal arts college in St. Paul marked her first campaign event in Minnesota. She’s the fourth Democratic presidential candidate (outside of Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota) to campaign in the North Star State.
“I hear her say, ‘I’ve got a plan for that,’ and she does,” said Nancy Docken, a 75-year-old St. Paul resident. “And she not only has a plan, but it’s thought out beyond just the first sketch of the idea ― there’s depth to it.”
Docken suggested Warren’s most attractive qualities are her ex-teacher’s ability to explain complicated subject matter and her humility, which allows her to admit she’s wrong at times and evolve in her beliefs.
Warren is her No. 1 choice, but at the end of the day, Docken said, she’ll vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is over President Donald Trump.
Several undecided voters who attended the rally said they felt Warren was one of the strongest Democratic candidates but worried whether Americans would vote a woman into the White House.
“I would like [Warren] to make it far,” said Joanne Kuria of Minneapolis. “But I don’t know after Hillary Clinton if the country is ready for a woman president. I would really like to see us surpass that.”
“I’m more of a moderate with progressive leanings,” she added. “I’ve got tons of friends that sit on the more conservative side that I’ve had conversations with who really, I don’t think, would vote for a woman.”
Others, like Jessica Edwards of Cannon Falls, waved off such concerns.
“Hell, yes,” America is ready for a woman president, she told HuffPost. “I’ve always felt that [Warren] is very intelligent and knows her stuff. At the same time, she’s very genuine and comes across very sincere, and that’s really important, too.”
Warren’s second campaign event in Minnesota is scheduled for Tuesday at Better Futures Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she is expected to participate in a roundtable on criminal justice reform.