MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
One thing is for certain. Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has a fanbase of loyal supporters. What is less certain is whether Warren, who has yet to finish above third place in any primary contest - does she have a path to the nomination? NPR's Daniel Kurtzleben has been with the Warren campaign for the last week. She joins me now.
DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Hello.
KELLY: Hi there. It sounds loud. Where exactly are you?
KURTZLEBEN: I am in Detroit, Mich., where she is supposed to speak tonight. I am outside the venue where she will be speaking. You will probably hear some intermittent chanting and yelling because her supporters are all waiting in line, and they're...
KELLY: Those loyal fans. Yeah.
KURTZLEBEN: Most definitely. Now, Warren has been all sorts of places over the last week. She's hopped through a few Super Tuesday states - Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, California last night. And she voted in Massachusetts today, but tonight she's here in Michigan. And people keeping score at home might realize that Michigan is not a Super Tuesday state. But this is an indication that Warren is looking ahead, that after tonight, she's going to be campaigning for those states that have their primaries next week, as Michigan does. So this at the very least seems to suggest she's not backing down.
KELLY: OK. So not backing down, keeping moving - but again, she has not won any contests yet. What is her plan to do so and then - ultimately if she wants to win the nomination?
KURTZLEBEN: You know, that's a great question. Now, her campaign put out a memo the other day predicting that no one will win an outright majority of delegates. So it seems to me that she's hoping for a win at a contested convention. Now, presumably, to get there and to have any sort of a case there, that would mean she'd have to have some show of strength. And so her campaign has been predicting a big delegate win tonight, and we'll see about if that happens. Things are kind of up in the air, you know?
She might pick up some former Pete Buttigieg supporters because she and he have had similar constituencies. Namely, white, college-educated folks have liked both of them. But she's on the bubble in some big states like California because in some of these states, you have to - in these states, you have to get at least 15% support. And she's been right around 15% in California, so there's a real question whether she's going to get over that bar.
KELLY: I can hear the chanting. I can hear the yells of supporters...
KELLY: ...Behind her. They are on board, but what about other voters? What is her message? What is the case she's trying to make to win voters over?
KURTZLEBEN: So she's been doing her usual stump speech - lots of plans, including a new one to deal with coronavirus. But she's also shifted from the kind of kind and friendly unity message she was giving towards the end in Iowa. In her last couple of appearances, she's really sharply criticized Joe Biden, whom, as you probably know, scooped up some big endorsements yesterday from Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke. And here's how Warren responded to that last night in Los Angeles.
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ELIZABETH WARREN: No matter how many Washington insiders tell you to support him, nominating fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment.
KURTZLEBEN: She went on to call it a risk to the country and the party to nominate Biden. Not only that, but she, the other night in Houston, took aim at Bernie Sanders. She said he has great ideas, but she cast him as ineffective during his time in the Senate. And she said he's less likely to accomplish progressive goals than she would be.
KELLY: And how are her supporters reacting to that and the broader part of her message?
KURTZLEBEN: You know, it's a mixed bag. Some will tell you it's a long shot, but they're going with her anyway. But a lot of others are really diehard fans and have been for years. You know, they love her. They think she's really smart. And they're opposed to trying to, like, strategize and vote for someone they like less. Now, a good example is Naomi Schegloff, who I met in Los Angeles last night. I mentioned to her, you know, Warren is behind in delegates, and here's how she responded.
NAOMI SCHEGLOFF: We are barely getting started on the delegates. And when somebody shows up who you don't - it's not just that you dislike them the least, but you actually genuinely like them. You've got to be excited about it. I mean, if you can be excited about something right now, you should be excited about it. You know what I mean? There are plenty of reasons to hide under the covers, but she's a reason to get out of bed.
KELLY: A reason to get out of bed.
KURTZLEBEN: So the enthusiasm...
KURTZLEBEN: ...Is clearly - yeah. Yeah. But one enthusiastic vote is still one vote.
KELLY: Indeed. That is NPL's (ph) Danielle Kurtzleben. She's traveling - you heard it there - with the Warren campaign in Detroit, and we will be hearing from other campaigns throughout this evening.
Thank you, Danielle.
KURTZLEBEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.