SIOUX CITY (Iowa) • Senator Elizabeth Warren informally kicked off the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating fight on a weekend visit to Iowa, condemning the corrupting influence of money on politics and lamenting lost economic opportunities for working families.
In the state that holds the first presidential nominating contest in 13 months, Ms Warren introduced herself to Iowa crowds with tales of her working-class upbringing in Oklahoma and emphasised her signature theme of income inequality.
"Washington works great for those with money but not for anyone else. We need to call this what it is, corruption, pure and simple," the Massachusetts Senator told Democrats in Sioux City on the second of five public stops during her three-day visit.
It was an early jump on the race for Ms Warren, who formed a presidential exploratory committee and began hiring staff last week. So far she is the biggest name to enter what promises to be a crowded Democratic field, with at least two dozen others considering a run.
Former housing secretary Julian Castro also has formed an exploratory committee, and former US congressman John Delaney became the first Democrat to formally declare last year and has campaigned extensively in the state.
But Ms Warren, 69, had Iowa to herself over the weekend, and she used the time to make contacts with prominent state activists and court crowds with promises to fight what she called a rigged economic system that favours the wealthy.
She has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Donald Trump, a Republican, but rarely mentioned him by name at her public events on Friday and Saturday.
In the Senate, Ms Warren is also an outspoken critic of Wall Street and is a leader of her party's progressive wing, but she could face competition in the nomination fight from other liberal voices, such as fellow senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
Democrats face lingering tensions between their most liberal voices, such as Ms Warren, and the more pragmatic wing, which includes former vice-president Joe Biden and several former governors and mayors who are considering running.
In Iowa, Ms Warren said her childhood in Oklahoma shaped her populist economic views.
She was the daughter of a janitor who lost work after a heart attack, forcing her mother to take a minimum-wage job. "That minimum-wage job saved our house and it saved our family," Ms Warren said. "Today, a minimum-wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. That's why I'm in this fight."
Local Democrats said they were anxious to start focusing on picking a challenger for Mr Trump, although most said it was way too early for them to commit to a candidate.
A December Des Moines Register/CNN poll of likely 2020 Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa found Ms Warren in fourth place with 8 per cent support, trailing three candidates who have not yet entered the race - Mr Biden at 32 per cent, Mr Sanders at 19 per cent and former US congressman Beto O'Rourke of Texas at 11 per cent.