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Elizabeth Warren at Chicago Town Hall: “We Need Power Elsewhere in the System”

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren brought her stump speech to a packed town hall at the Auditorium Theatre on Friday night, calling out big money in politics, corruption in Washington, DC, and income inequality across America.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a town hall at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“Whatever issue brought you here today – I guarantee if there is a decision to be made in Washington – it has been touched by money,” Warren told the crowd of more than 3,500 people. It has been moved, shaped and accepted by people with money.”

Warren’s appearance came after a standout performance in the first round of Democratic presidential debates on Wednesday, and as several candidates including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Bill de Blasio, Amy Klobuchar, and Warren herself take part in the annual Rainbow PUSH convention, which kicked off Friday morning.

In her hour-long speech, Warren mixed stories about her personal life and family’s struggles with policy ideas to help Americans struggling with crippling debt and low wages.

“When I was a girl a full time minimum wage job in America would support a family of three – it would cover a mortgage, pay the utilities, put food on the table,” she said. “Today a full time minimum wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong and that’s why I’m in this fight.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a town hall at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

“Today the question asked in Washington is where do we set the minimum wage that will maximize the profits of giant multinational corporations,” she added. “I don’t want a government that works for giant multinational corporations, I want a government that works for our families.”

The Massachusetts Senator also said that “structural changes” were needed in government to curb the influence of giant corporations over the lives of ordinary Americans.

“We need power elsewhere in the system,” said Warren. “That means we need more power in the hands of workers – make it easier to join a union and give unions more power when they negotiate.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes the stage at a town hall at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

During a short question and answer session where three audience members were chosen by lottery, Warren addressed climate change, foreign policy, and the conditions in prison camps at the border.

“No great country locks up children,” Warren told the crowd to a huge round of applause. “No great country separates children from their families. No great country lets profiteers make money off locking up desperate people.”

Warren recalled her visit to a prison camp in Florida earlier in the week. “I saw little children there – children who were being marched from building to building as if they were prisoners,” she said. “This is wrong and all of us – not just some of us – all of us need to stand up and say to our government ‘stop this now.’ It happens in our name and it is wrong.”

One of more than 3,500 audience members holds a campaign sign for Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a town hall in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

When asked how she would restore the faith of American allies, Warren took a few jabs at President Donald Trump and said allies make diplomacy work.

“Foreign policy by tweet does not work. First rule of foreign policy – know the difference between your friends and enemies,” she said. “Be nice to your friends… We need diplomacy, a state department…We need career diplomats, not big time campaign contributors. We need to use economic tools and we need a strong military. We need all of our tools but to make those tools effective we need allies. Allies are how you make this work, how you make diplomacy work.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a town hall at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Before departing for the evening, Warren stayed onstage to pose for selfies with hundreds of supporters, which has become the trademark closing of her town halls. Warren is scheduled to participate in an event for the Rainbow PUSH convention on Saturday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren poses for a selfie with an audience member after hosting a town hall at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

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