Clinton trumpets income inequality message in wake of Warren push

Warren takes the stage for her acceptance speech after beating the incumbent Senator, Scott Brown, on November 6, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton had a clear message the day after The Boston Globe urged Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president: Addressing income inequality is the best way to help America's urban areas come back from the brink.

Stressing the need for a "vigorous debate" on income inequality, The Boston Globe editorial board joined a growing chorus of voices urging Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president with an editorial published this weekend, despite the Democratic senator repeatedly saying she will not seek the nomination in 2016.
Clinton -- the prohibitive favorite for the nomination and the person Warren's unlikely candidacy would directly challenge -- dove head first into a conversation on addressing income inequality Monday. Her remarks, which came as part of a Center for American Progress roundtable in Washington, D.C., showed how the topic will be a key 2016 issue, whether Warren runs or not.
Clinton stressed that "a lot of inequality has only gotten worse" in recent year, arguing cities need to address people who are "trapped in generational poverty."
    "We need to think hard about what we're going to do now that people are moving back into and staying in cities to make sure that our cities are not just places of economic prosperity and job creation on average, but do it in a way that lifts everybody up," Clinton said.
    Liberals have been captivated by Warren since she burst onto the political scene in 2010 primarily because of her fairness and income inequality message. On Sunday, The Boston Globe echoed many of those arguments.
    "Democrats would be making a big mistake if they let Hillary Clinton coast to the presidential nomination without real opposition, and, as a national leader, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren can make sure that doesn't happen," the editorial opens. "Indeed, the big-picture debate on financial regulation and income inequality is what's most at peril if the Democratic primaries come and go without top-notch opponents for Clinton."
    Clinton leads the potential Democratic field by huge margins in every survey of the race, with a recent CNN/ORC survey giving her 62% support among Democrats to Warren's 10% support. But Clinton faces deep skepticism from the progressive base within her party, who see Warren as a stronger advocate on key issues like income inequality and Wall Street reform.
    The issue isn't that Clinton doesn't address income inequality. The former secretary of state has mentioned the issue for the better part of her time on the speaking circuit. Clinton told an audience in May "many Americans understandably feel frustrated, even angry" because upward mobility feels "further and further out of reach." Liberals, however, want her to put her message into motion, much like Warren has on Capitol Hill.
    The Globe editorial board suggests they'd want her to run to win, noting that Clinton has been beaten before by an upstart underdog challenger, the senator from Illinois who later became President Barack Obama. But it primarily argues that Warren should run to force Clinton into a debate on those key economic issues.
    "Unlike Clinton, or any of the prospective Republican candidates, Warren has made closing the economic gaps in America her main political priority, in a career that has included standing up for homeowners facing illegal foreclosures and calling for more bankruptcy protections. If she runs, it'll ensure that those issues take their rightful place at the center of the national political debate," the board writes.
    The freshman senator has long resisted calls to run, however, repeatedly insisting she has no interest in the presidency and would rather work on those issues from the Senate. But the Boston Globe editorial board refutes that argument, writing that with Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, Warren may have the best shot at effecting change from the White House.
    "For the foreseeable future, the best pathway Warren and other Democrats have for implementing their agenda runs through the White House," they write.
    The editorial also pans three of the most prominent contenders openly considering taking Clinton on. Neither former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb nor former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley "represent top-tier opponents," the board writes, and "it's difficult to imagine [independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders] thriving on the trail."
    Clinton is expected to announce her presidential candidacy in early April. She has already begun to build a team of aides, many of whom have quit their day jobs. John Podesta, the man who is slated to be her campaign chairman, attended Monday's event, sitting in the front row at Clinton addressed income inequality.
    The former first lady closed the event with a riff on bipartisanship, a topic she has grown fond of in the last few weeks. She said she loved "sessions like this" because it allowed her to "to get back into an evidence-based discussion."
    She urged politicians looking to revitalized cities to "get out of the very unproductive discussion that we have had for too long where people are just in their ideological bunkers, having arguments, instead trying to reach across those divides and have some solutions."
    Clinton then acknowledged her panel member Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, California, and her push to get gangs in her city to come together and talk about their differences.
    "Mayor, I think that what you did with gangs and gang members is exactly what needs to be done in so many places in our country," Clinton said.
    Her next project, Clinton joked, should be Congress, "a beautiful domed building where you know, I'm trying to put everybody in the same room and start that conversation."