WASHINGTON (AP) — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tends to stick to the script when she's asked about a potential 2016 presidential campaign: "I am not running for president." So her latest response has touched off new speculation about her future.
When asked if she will run in 2016, the first-term Democrat and liberal favorite told People magazine, "I don't think so."
In the unsettled early presidential derby, that's a notable shift, and it has the political world abuzz. Former first lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton is considering a bid and is seen as the early would-be favorite. But Warren's populist views have made her a popular alternative in hypothetical matchups.
But Warren's team said Thursday that people shouldn't read much into her comments. "Nothing has changed," said Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose.
The first-term senator, a former Harvard Law professor, also said in the People interview released Wednesday that "if there's any lesson I've learned in the last five years, it's don't be so sure about what lies ahead. There are amazing doors that could open."
Warren has been a leading voice in the Senate on curbing Wall Street excess, allowing college students to refinance their loans and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Warren has said repeatedly that she's not running for president. In the interview, she said of her relationship with Clinton, "We have talked. It's not much more than that. Not much more."
The senator has played an active role on the campaign trail this year, helping fellow Democrats like Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley. Her appearances in Iowa last weekend drew enthusiastic crowds of people wearing T-shirts or stickers that said "Elizabeth Warren for President" or "Run Liz Run."
The timing offers some parallels to President Barack Obama, who said for much of 2006 that he would serve out his full six-year Senate term. In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" — on Oct. 22, 2006 — Obama opened the door to a 2008 presidential bid, saying he had "thought about the possibility" because of the positive response from fellow Democrats.
Obama defeated Clinton in the 2008 primary campaign.
Warren is scheduled to campaign Saturday in New Hampshire, home of the nation's first presidential primary, with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Shaheen faces former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, who moved to the state after he was defeated by Warren in 2012.
Some liberal groups said the interest in Warren's future shows how much her economic message resonates.
"I believe Sen. Warren when she says she's not running, but things certainly could change," said Roger Hickey, co-founder of the Campaign for America's Future, which Warren addressed in May. "If Hillary Clinton campaigns in a rightward direction on foreign policy or on economic issues or if Secretary Clinton decides not to run or stumbles badly, then there would be enormous support for Warren getting into the campaign."
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