LANSING, Mich.—Elizabeth Warren is solidly in third place in the Democratic primary polls, but she's starting to picture herself in the White House.
"When I'm president—whoa, that sounds good!" she said in Detroit on Tuesday.
In front of a pair of crowds totaling more than 2,000 in Detroit and Lansing, the 2020 contender pitched her latest plans to overhaul Washington and the U.S. economy, squealed about taking "selfies" with her supporters, and imagined out loud being President Warren.
There is no doubt she generates some of the most enthusiasm at her events of any Democratic candidate, and she's enjoyed a small surge in polling, fundraising and positive press after a rocky start.
"I think she's getting a bit of traction. I've been hearing more about her in general. People are talking about her," Alex Marks, an attendee of Warren's rally, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Supporters scream over her invective against corruption and corporations, as well as her myriad liberal policies paid for by a possibly unconstitutional wealth tax. They listen at rapt attention when she gets personal about her family's struggle to stay afloat when her father had a heart attack and her mother got a minimum-wage job.
But the question is can she beat President Donald Trump?
"I really, really hope she can," Ian Leighton, a professor at Lansing Community College, told the Free Beacon. "I don't know if she'd be able to, but I really hope she can. I'm going to do my best to help her out."
She has bigger problems to handle before that, running more than 20 points behind rival Joe Biden in the primary. When a reporter asked if she'd read Biden's climate proposal released the same day, she said she was too busy. When one voter who wanted "radical" change said he feared the Democrats would play it safe and nominate Biden, Warren sounded emotional as she promised to do whatever it took to win.
"We have this opportunity together. It comes to us, this fundamental question about what kind of America do we want to be. Do we want to be the America of the last two years?" she said, drawing a resounding "no" from the Lansing crowd. Among the attendees were a math professor who told the Free Beacon "the Electoral College is stupid" and a woman wearing an orange vest with a sticker reading "F*** Betsy Devos."
Warren unveiled a three-tiered Green Manufacturing plan on Tuesday to go along with an "economic patriotism" proposal that reminded some observers of Trump's protectionist platform. That was a comparison she shrugged off while talking to reporters. Nevertheless, she slammed American companies Levi's and General Electric by name for having "no loyalty or allegiance to America." She also called for the federal government to go entirely carbon-neutral to battle climate change.
A Warren administration would create a Department of Economic Development to replace the Commerce Department and place the Small Business Administration and the Patent and Trademark Office under its umbrella. She also said her administration would "act aggressively" in managing U.S. currency value to protect American jobs and manufacturing, promote exports, and invest $2 trillion over the next decade in Green manufacturing.
"Those giant corporations, they may not care about American workers, but I do, and I'm willing to fight for it," she said. "You want to be an American company? Then make a contribution to running this country."
Warren took six questions from the crowd at her two events. Besides a passing reference to Russia, Warren didn't touch on Robert Mueller or impeachment of Trump, which she favors.
It's the policy approach that continues to win accolades with her supporters.
Maureen Moseley, a health care worker from Detroit, said she was "10 percent undecided" on Warren before attending her event.
"I'm not undecided any longer. She has the best ideas. I think she has the best leadership," she said, praising her green manufacturing plan. "That's one of my huge concerns is over the past 30 years or more, with the trickle-down economy that doesn't trickle down. You see nothing but downsize, downsize, downsize, send it to China. There's no manufacturing left here."
Western Michigan University student Henry Thiry said he was fully in Warren's camp and said Democrats such as Hillary Clinton had become like Republicans with "old ideas." He said he preferred Warren to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) because she was a woman and "representation is really important."
He dared someone to challenge Warren's "wealth tax," which will likely require a Democratic House and Senate to pass in the first place. It's her cure-all to pay for universal child care and cancel a huge chunk of outstanding student debt.
"People think it's unconstitutional and they want to challenge it in the courts, challenge it in the courts!" Thiry said. "Why would we right now step away from doing something like that because someone might challenge it in the courts?"
Clinton famously ignored Michigan in 2016 en route to becoming the first Democrat to lose it in a presidential election since Michael Dukakis in 1988. Jackson College professor Alana Tuckey looks forward to the state being fiercely contested in 2020.
"We're going to be getting mailers, we're going to be getting flyers," she said. "I'd rather have that than be in a state like North Dakota."