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Elizabeth Warren invokes hope in New Year's Eve speech commemorating 2020 launch

Posted December 31, 2019 2:01 p.m. EST

— With the Iowa caucuses just 34 days away, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants you to know she has hope.

The Massachusetts senator gave a rare teleprompter speech on the morning of New Year's Eve to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the launch of her exploratory committee for a presidential run.

Amid attacks from her moderate 2020 Democratic presidential rivals -- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden -- and a drop in the polls that took her out of her frontrunner status from just a few months ago, Warren made clear she's not going anywhere.

"People tell me what's broken, but the fear always comes lit by a hope for change," she told an audience of more than 600 people in the historic Old South Meeting House in Boston. "Hope for change because they believe in America, and in each other. And I believe too."

Warren -- who often uses these speeches to tell the story of women who overcame adversity to improve the conditions in the country -- spoke about "a young, enslaved girl named Phillis Wheatley" who used to come to the Old South Meeting House and became the first black woman to publish a book of poetry.

"Her imagination is woven into the tapestry of America's story," Warren said. "So, just for a moment, here in this place of ideas that took root and shaped a nation, here on the eve of a new year, let us come together to imagine. Imagine what our country will look like, imagine what your own life will look like, when we finally turn this page in our history."

She expressed her gratitude to those who have helped her in the year since launching her White House bid, and slammed "billionaires, the corporate executives and their favorite presidential candidates," as well as "the chaos and ugliness" brought on by the Trump administration.

At the top of her remarks, she slammed Republicans for continuing to back Trump on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial and mentioned her plans to return and participate.

"He tried to squeeze a foreign government to advance his own personal political fortunes. Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress have turned into fawning, spineless defenders of his crimes," she said. "It brought no one any joy, but the House Democrats upheld their sworn duty to the Constitution and impeached the President of the United States."

She continued: "Soon I will return to the Senate to do my sworn duty as well. But unless some Senate Republicans choose truth over politics, Donald Trump will be emboldened to try to cheat his way through yet another election."

And she didn't hold back against slight digs against rivals Buttigieg and Biden, who continue to hold high dollar fundraisers while Warren swore off holding such fundraisers for her presidential campaign.

"The billionaires, the corporate executives and their favorite presidential candidates have one clear goal: To convince you that everything you imagine is impossible. To convince you that reform is hopeless," she said, digging at the two. "To convince you that because no one can be pure, it's pointless to try to make anything better."

Warren -- speaking from a podium built from boards reclaimed from the homestead of Frances Perkins, the first female secretary of labor who the senator has spoken about at length previously -- asked the audience to imagine a Warren presidency.

"Imagine an America where no matter the color of your skin, who you love, how you worship, where you were born, or what zip code you live in, you are safe and your opportunities look pretty much like everyone else's," she said. "If you can imagine all this -- if you can imagine that something better lies on the other side of the chaos and ugliness of the last three years-- then you are more than halfway there. The first step is to see it. The next step is to fight for it."

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