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Warren set to campaign in Elkhart; political experts discuss impact of visit

NOW: Warren set to campaign in Elkhart; political experts discuss impact of visit

ELKHART, Ind. -- Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is set to be in Michiana on Wednesday.

Warren will host a community conversation at the Northern Indiana Event Center in Elkhart.

The event is free and open to the public but people must reserve tickets online.

Doors open at 10:15 a.m. and the event starts at 11:15 a.m.

According to Warren’s campaign, the senator will discuss her green manufacturing plan. On Tuesday, Warren released the plan. She says it’s the first of several promised plans that outline her vision of “economic patriotism.”

The plan calls for a $2 trillion investment in climate friendly industries over a decade and creates a new cabinet level Department of Economic Development.

Warren’s visit marks the first campaign stop by a 2020 candidate this year. It’s also the first time one of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s competitors is campaigning in his backyard.

Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, a political professor at Indiana University South Bend, says this stop sends a message to Mayor Pete.

“Warren is coming here to Pete’s backyard, kind of suggesting that she’s willing to bring the fight to him,” said Bennion. “So, it does appear that he seems like a credible candidate but also that Elkhart still represents a community that is very vulnerable economically.”

Buttigieg spoke about Warren’s visit to Michiana at his Mayor’s Night Out event last week.

When asked about his thoughts on her visit he said, “I’ll make sure to reach out. Obviously somebody I respect. Everybody on the trail, all the competitors, there’s a lot to respect and admire so I’m glad to know she’ll be in our area.”

“Mayor Pete is very well known and pretty well respected in Michiana and so, his big objective is to get other people outside of our region and our state to know who he is, but if other Democrats start campaigning hard here for votes that means he may have to spend a little more time campaigning here at home,” said Bennion.

Jack Colwell, a long-time political columnist for the South Bend Tribune, told ABC57 he believes Warren’s stop is more about her showing her ability to draw a crowd in a heavily Republican area rather than going head to head with Mayor Pete.

He does not think Warren’s visit will change Buttigieg’s campaign strategy.

Warren is just the latest major presidential candidate to visit Michiana over the last few years.

Bennion says at one time stops like Wednesday’s would be considered rare. She explains prior to 2008, presidential candidates usually did not campaign in Indiana because it’s considered a Republican stronghold.

However that changed after former President Barack Obama flipped the state in 2008.

“Since then we’ve actually seen a lot of activity,” said Bennion. She cited stops by Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Ted Cruz during the 2016 primary and general election.

“This is important for people here in Michiana because it suggests that the candidates actually see this as an important area,” said Bennion.

Bennion and other political experts believe Obama successfully showed voters he cared about them, which sends a signal to other candidates they could do the same if they invest in Indiana.

“One of the things that we see is that more candidates visiting an area, generates more attention to a political race, and excitement among the population,” said Bennion. “It also of course generates more media coverage which then again gets this race more in people’s mind which can be a very good thing.”

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