Hundreds of veterans of Barack Obama’s campaigns and administration have signed on to endorse Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president, as multiple Democratic presidential candidates compete to claim the popular former president’s political coalition and legacy.
With the Iowa caucuses less than two months away, more than 200 Obama alumni joined a signature-gathering effort led by a pair of former senior Obama aides, Sara El-Amine and Jon Carson. Among other roles, El-Amine was national director of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, while Carson was a national field director for Obama’s 2008 campaign prior to joining the administration. Both served as executive directors of Organizing for America, the Obama grassroots organizing network.
The list of endorsers shared with CNN includes Robert Ford, ex-US ambassador to Syria, and Sean Carroll, a former senior official at USAID. It also features Obama alumni who are currently working on the Warren campaign full-time including in senior-most positions, like Warren chief strategist Joe Rospars, senior adviser Emily Parcell, national political director Rebecca Pearcey and national director of public engagement Alencia Johnson.
In an interview with CNN, El-Amine and Carson touted the “incredible diversity” of the group that has come out in support of Warren. The 200-plus names were collected in under a week, and they planned to continue growing the list, they said.
“We are a group that really uniquely knows that electability is self-determining and that oftentimes it’s the people with the boldest vision and the most unlikely candidacies early on who can really shift the field,” El-Amine said. “Sen. Warren really has the zest and the grit and the gumption and the audacity that we loved that President Obama really embodied.”
Asked about the decision to support Warren over Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, Carson declined to comment on any of the other candidates. He pointed out that Warren herself is an Obama alum, having spearheaded the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis – something Warren frequently reminds voters of on the campaign trail.
“We all got to know each other working on a campaign, but we’re doing different things now and I think we all really believe in the need for big structural change that she is promising,” Carson said of the Obama alums backing Warren. “I think that’s why we’re with Sen. Warren.”
After the publication of this story, a Warren spokesperson said the name Edward Buck was on the list of endorsers by mistake. Buck is a Democratic donor who was indicted and arrested earlier this year in relation to the deaths of men who overdosed in his home.
“This was a mistake considering Ed Buck was not staff or an alum,” the spokesperson said. “This was put together via Google Doc by some Obama alums and they caught some non-staff that populated the list but obviously they missed one. They are removing it.”
The news comes as Warren’s rivals are also touting support from the Obama network.
Biden frequently lauds Obama’s accomplishments in his eight years in the White House and discusses the close friendship he continues to have with the former President. The Biden campaign has unveiled major endorsements from some of the highest-ranking Obama administration officials. The list includes ex-Cabinet members like former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
(The list of Warren endorsers released Wednesday does not feature any Cabinet-level Obama officials.)
Biden for his part has said that he is not expecting an endorsement from Obama. He told Politico earlier this month that he recently asked Obama not to endorse, and maintained he would not want the ex-President’s backing even when the Democratic field eventually narrows to three people.
“No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,” Biden said. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
On the campaign trail, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has emphasized parallels between his own candidacy and Obama’s first White House bid, including the theme of unity. And the Buttigieg campaign recently announced endorsements from three former Obama administration officials: Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, Linda Douglass, the former director of communications for the White House Office of Health Reform, and Reggie Love, Obama’s special assistant and personal aide.
Warren regularly ends her campaign town halls by discussing her work in the Obama administration to rein in Wall Street, and how she created the CFPB with the former President’s backing.
“So we got in the fight. We took on the big money. We took on Wall Street. And in 2010, President Barack Obama signed that agency into law,” Warren said in Burlington, Iowa, this week. “We won. We won.”
In a statement provided to CNN about the endorsements, Warren credited Obama campaign and administration officials having “changed what we know is possible in American politics.”
“I am honored to stand beside them, and with their support, we will win in 2020 and make government work for all people, not just those at the top,” Warren said.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect that the Warren campaign acknowledged an error in the endorsement list.