Elizabeth Warren's new role: Key Joe Biden policy adviser

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FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2020, file photo guests watch Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden speak on a big screen during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. Warren, a Massachusetts senator and leading progressive, has become an unlikely confidant and adviser to Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. They talk every 10 days or so, according to aides to both politicians who requested anonymity to describe their relationship. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

WASHINGTON – Joe Biden accused Elizabeth Warren last year of holding an “angry, unyielding viewpoint.” She embraced that label and slammed Biden as “naive” for thinking he could work with Republicans as president. She warned Democrats against picking a “Washington insider” and pointedly refused to endorse Biden until weeks after exiting the race.

Now, those bitter primary clashes are a distant memory.

Warren, a Massachusetts senator and leading progressive, has become an unlikely confidant and adviser to Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. They talk every 10 days or so, according to aides to both politicians who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely describe their relationship. Those forums have provided opportunities for Warren to make a case on top policy issues to Biden, who ran a more centrist primary campaign.

He adopted Warren-endorsed plans on personal bankruptcy, expanding Social Security benefits and canceling student-loan debt for millions of Americans. She also helped devise important portions of his post-pandemic economic recovery proposals.

Warren, meanwhile, is lending Biden her progressive credentials and frequently hosts campaign events for him, including one recent fundraiser that brought in $6 million. Only former President Barack Obama secured a greater haul.

Vanquished presidential hopefuls are often called on to rally around the nominee, especially if they want to become vice president, a role Warren has expressed interest in. But the relationship between Warren and Biden is notable given that they were never particularly close before. It also illustrates a more pragmatic side of Warren, whose presidential campaign was built around economic populism that championed everyday Americans over the rich with the slogan “Dream Big. Fight Hard.”

“She’s interested in problem-solving. She’s more practical than she sometimes seemed during the campaign,” said Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor who briefly ran for president himself. “She fights for the outcome, but because she’s so smart and she’s so creative, she can think of more than one way to get there.”

Biden has promised to pick a woman as his vice president and has faced pressure from African American activists to choose a Black running mate as an acknowledgment of their political importance and a response to institutional racism. Warren, who is white, nevertheless remains a finalist.