Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) defensively declared herself a capitalist in an interview published Tuesday, saying markets are "what make us rich" as long as they're "fair."
Speaking with CNBC's John Harwood, Warren rejected the idea she is a "polarizing" figure.
"You are more polarizing than some. My question to you is, do you embrace that? Are you happy with that?" Harwood asked.
"That's funny you'd say that. I actually don’t see it that way," Warren said. "I see it as wherever I go, people know what I fight for, and a lot of folks agree with me, and even a lot of folks who don't respect the fact that I’m pretty darn clear about it and pretty straightforward about my fights for it."
"But you recognize that, say, with businesspeople, with Wall Street you're a very polarizing figure?" Harwood asked.
"Look, I get that there are a lot of folks who like having the power and the riches they have, they like being able to tweak their little pinkie and the United States government does just what they want," Warren said. "They like being able to get regulations rolled back or not enforced. I totally get that. And I get that I push hard against that, that I may be a threat to them on that. But my view on that is, don't call me the polarizing figure. They're the ones who want to take advantage of this country. They're the ones who want to cheat."
Warren has become a progressive darling as a scourge of big banks and Wall Street through her work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and then as a U.S. senator. She attacked fellow Senate Democrats who joined Republicans in rolling back regulations against smaller and mid-sized banks in Dodd-Frank.
"It sounds as if you think there’s a good bit of malice," Harwood said to Warren about those who have enriched themselves in the financial industry.
"You don't think capitalists are bad people?" Harwood asked.
"I am a capitalist. Come on!" she said. "I believe in markets. What I don't believe in is theft. What I don't believe in is cheating. That's where the difference is. I love what markets can do, I love what functioning economies can do. They are what make us rich, they are what create opportunity, but only fair markets, markets with rules. Markets without rules is about the rich take it all, it's about the powerful get all of it. And that's what's gone wrong in America."
The left-leaning Warren has made several recent pronouncements about championing the American economic system, recently telling the New England Council she's a "capitalist to [her] bones" and declaring on MSNBC she believes in markets "right down to [her] toes."
Warren is one of several prominent Democrats considered 2020 contenders, although she's repeatedly dodged questions about her intentions beyond 2018. She is up for re-election for her seat in November.