SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Fresh off a debate performance that may have bolstered her standing in the 2020 Democratic race, Sen. Elizabeth Warren returned to Massachusetts focused on strengthening her electability against President Donald Trump.
Speaking at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention on Saturday, Warren said the Trump administration is "one of the darkest chapters in our nation's modern history" and called on Democrats to unite toward a common goal: beat Trump in 2020.
Warren, a native of Oklahoma who represents her adopted home state of Massachusetts, where she taught at Harvard Law School, in the U.S. Senate, has largely avoided directly attacking Trump or her Democratic competitors on the campaign trail.
The focus on electability went to answer a persistent question in the minds of Democratic officials and voters about the progressive senator's candidacy: can she win a general election against Trump in a race that will no doubt be nasty.
Warren, 70, highlighted her electability argument by laying out policy proposals that she said will fix the problems that got Trump elected in the first place.
"This dark moment requires more than being 'not Trump,' because a country that elects someone like Donald Trump is a country that's already in serious trouble," Warren said. "We need to talk honestly about what's broken in America, but even more than that -- we must show Americans that we have plans to make big, structural changes to fix what's broken."
Warren's support has been inching upward as she made one detailed policy proposal after another all year. She's slowly gaining ground on front-runner Joe Biden and even boosted her polling against Trump. With more than four months until the Iowa caucuses, Warren's second hurdle is to convince voters that she'll be a unifying candidate for the nation, said Debra Kozikowski, vice-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
"If there's a problem, she has a plan, a path to get there and puts a price tag on it," said Kozikowski, who hasn't publicly endorsed a candidate. "That kind of attention to detail from a presidential candidate can bridge a lot of philosophical differences."
Biden scored a point in Thursday's Democratic debate in Houston, however, by challenging Warren on how she would pay for one of her central plans, government-run healthcare often known as Medicare for All. She avoided giving a direct answer, beyond saying that a family's healthcare costs would drop.
Biden, too, has made beating Trump central to his campaign message, pitching himself as the one who can appeal to working class and blue collar voters to win back key states that Trump won in 2016, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Warren, now in second place in most polls along with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has called for structural change in government.