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Elizabeth Warren Focuses On Anti-Corruption Message At NYC Rally

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a major presidential campaign speech last night in New York City. According to her campaign, more than 20,000 people were there, making it her largest rally to date. NPR's Asma Khalid covered it.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Under that landmark arch in Washington Square Park, Elizabeth Warren honed in on a message - corruption. The Massachusetts senator has a lot of policy plans, but there's one guiding principle behind all of them. She wants to return both political and economic power to the people.

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ELIZABETH WARREN: Step one, tackle corruption head-on.

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KHALID: One way to do that, she says, is to end lobbying as we know it.

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WARREN: I have a lifetime ban on senators, congressmen and Cabinet secretaries from ever being lobbyists.

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KHALID: And she went further.

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WARREN: No more secret meetings. Every single meeting between a lobbyist and a public official should be a matter of public record.

(CHEERING)

KHALID: Nearly every promise she made to end corruption was punctuated by loud cheers. Warren's speeches are kind of like listening to a college professor deliver a history lesson, but with a lot more energy. She has a narrative arc and a clear takeaway. To emphasize how people can fight back against corrupt forces, she told the story of a deadly factory fire and the labor movement it inspired. She praised Frances Perkins, who served as labor secretary under Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the '30s, she had pushed for social security, the minimum wage and the existence of the weekend.

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WARREN: That's big structural change - one woman and millions of people to back her up.

KHALID: Warren has built a distinct brand as a campaigner. She's the insider outsider. I met former Bernie Sanders supporters sitting next to former Hillary Clinton supporters. They both have found something they like in Warren. Her rally came on the same day she received a key endorsement from the Working Families Party, a progressive group that backed Sanders in 2016. Part of Warren's appeal is that she seems accessible while holding massive rallies. She takes selfies with every last person who wants one, which means here in New York, three hours after she had finished her speech, the selfie line still wrapped around the edge of the park.

Asma Khalid, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.