Asked about how, if elected, she would be the oldest president ever inaugurated, Warren countered with a story about underrepresented voices and how she uses her famous selfie line to root them out.
“I made the decision when I decided to run not to do business as usual,” she said. “And now I’m proud at 100,000 selfies.
“That’s 100,000 hugs and handshakes and stories — stories of people struggling with student loan debt, stories of people that can’t pay their medical bills, stories from people that can’t find child care.”
A reflection of its grassroots focus, Warren’s campaign has built its digital strategy around selfies — namely, by having Warren stay for as long as four hours after events and snap (well-documented) photos with eager supporters.
But, Warren said Thursday night, it’s not just about the exposure: Posing for these photos gives her face time with Americans who aren’t donating thousands of dollars for access to a presidential candidate — an apparent dig at South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, who have held numerous high-dollar fundraisers.
“Those selfies cost nobody anything,” Warren said. “People that can put down $5,000 to have a picture taken don’t have the same priorities as people that are struggling with student loan debt or struggling to pay off medical debt.”
The senator brought up the photos yet again at the end of Thursday’s debate, when moderators asked candidates if they would like to offer forgiveness or “a gift” to another Democrat onstage.
“Sometimes I get a little hot,” Warren replied, choosing to offer forgiveness, though she declined to name a specific candidate. “What happens is when you do 100,000 selfies with people, you hear enough stories about people who are really down to their last moments.
“When I think about what we could do, if we get a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and get back the White House, we could make this country work for people like that man. And that’s why I’m in this fight.”
An exasperated Biden shot back: “You’re not the only one who’s done selfies, Senator.”
“I’ve done thousands of them, thousands of them,” the former vice president continued. “My wife and I have a call list of somewhere between 20 and 100 people that we call very week or every month and tell them, ‘I’m here.’”
“I have scores of these young women and men who I keep in contact with. And the reason I would give everyone here a gift is because they want to do something like I do, making their lives better because there’s a lot of people who are hurting very, very, very badly.”
It wasn’t the first time another candidate mocked Warren for her selfie fixation: In October, Buttigieg joked that Warren has been “more specific and forthcoming about the number of selfies she’s taken” than the details of her “Medicare for All” plan.