Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren addressed thousands of New Yorkers on Monday evening at a high-energy campaign event in Washington Square Park, tying her sweeping new anti-corruption agenda to the city's rich history of women- and immigrant-led labor struggles.
After walking out to Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five," the Massachusetts Senator launched into her progressive case for taking on the "giant corporations and billionaires." But she quickly broke from with her standard stump speech, instead calling the crowd's attention to the workers who'd organized in the wake of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911.
"We're not here today because of famous arches or famous men," she said. "We're here because of some hard-working women, who more than 100 years ago worked long hours in a brown 10-story building just a block that way."
Warren continued: "Everybody knew about these problems, but the fat profits were making New York's factory owners rich and they had no plans to give that up. Instead of changing conditions at the factories, the owners worked their political connections. They made campaign contributions and talked with their friends in the legislature. They greased the state government so thoroughly that nothing changed. Business owners got richer, politicians got more powerful, and working people paid the price. Does any of this sound familiar?"
The historical comparison was met with cheers from the electrified crowd, which Warren's team estimated at close to 20,000 people, making it her biggest rally yet. At one point, the audience began chanting "two cents"—a reference to her proposal to levy a 2 percent tax on fortunes worth more than $50 million. Perhaps the biggest applause line of the night came for Warren's description of President Donald Trump as "corruption in the flesh."
The speech came hours after Warren announced an updated anti-corruption agenda, which she says will be her first priority if elected president. The plan would restrict the revolving door between lobbyists and elected officials and block companies from forcing employees to sign arbitration clauses, among other far-reaching reforms.
Warren was introduced on Monday by Maurice Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party, which earlier in the day had announced their endorsement of her campaign. The move was widely panned by supporters of Bernie Sanders, who suggested the decision was made by WFP leaders, rather than rank-and-file members.
According to most polls, Joe Biden maintains his spot atop the democratic candidate field, though both Warren and Sanders have edged closer in recent weeks. A recent poll conducted in New York found Warren in second place among Democrats, with a majority of voters still undecided.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was in South Carolina at the time of Warren's speech, drew less than 1 percent support in the New York State poll.