DNC Speakers and Schedule 2012: Elizabeth Warren is a Double Edged Sword

Former President Barack Obama’s consumer protection advisor, and candidate in the 2012 Senate election in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren approaches her life’s most important political speech to date with a daunting task: to make the case for four more years of the very same economic policies Republicans just spent their whole convention decrying as the culprit for the “slowest economic recovery since World War II.”

She’s also doing so at a time when Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass) is starting to open a lead over the Harvard professor, after large months of numerous campaigning gaffes that threaten to erase the Democrats’ plans of recovering the former seat of Ted Kennedy and thus keep control of the U.S. Senate. This highlights what Politico has dubbed “the tale of two Warrens” – a prime time star in Charlotte and an underdog at home.

However, Warren, the intellectual author of Obama’s decontextualized phrase “you didn’t build that,” still has a great opportunity in her Wednesday night big speech. She can seize on the RNC 2012 attacks on the role of government to rally the liberal base of the Democratic Party and help keep President Obama in power for another four years. She has to be conciliatory though, highlighting the potential for economic growth that a partnership between the federal government and the private sector can achieve. Warren should restrain herself from using what some voters perceive as “class warfare rhetoric” -- the same that has caused her slip in the polls back in Massachusetts.

If Warren avoids stepping on any rhetoric land mine during her speech introducing former President Bill Clinton, while making an honest and compelling case for a growth-oriented partnership between the private sector and the federal government as paramount for economic recovery, she’ll be on her way not only to close the gap between her and Brown in Massachusetts but also to cement her popularity among the Democratic circles which consider her a viable candidate for president in 2016.