1 of 17
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., high-fives an attendee in an overflow crowd in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren was running late for her Salt Lake City campaign event Wednesday evening, but that didn't stop her from taking time to speak to Utahns who couldn't get into the crowded venue.

She jumped up on a makeshift riser outside of The Depot and greeted a crowd of supporters who'd stood for more than an hour in a line that stretched down 400 West and around the block before being turned away.

"I really appreciate that you're here. I wanted to be here at a time when people all across this country are talking about global warming, talking about the urgency of the moment," Warren said, shouting to be heard above traffic.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., walks with Carl Fisher, Save our Canyons, at Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

Jen Oscarson of Salt Lake City spoke up quickly when Warren offered to answer questions.

"I want to give you a thank you. Thank you for being here. We have so little vitalization for all us Democrats that feel alone in Utah," Oscarson said as she juggled a young child in her arms.

When Warren took the American flag-backed stage at The Depot, she had the crowd clapping and cheering throughout a nearly an hour-long speech about her background as well as what she hopes to do as president.

Her public lands policy, released Monday, includes a promise to restore the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah that were dramatically reduced by President Donald Trump.

"I stand with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante," Warren said, adding there are "two great reasons to be here in Salt Lake City. One is great hiking and the other is great Democrats. I feel like I’m here with family."

Other policy proposals the former special needs teacher, and later law school professor, detailed focused on the role of money in politics and how it affects issues like climate change.

"That is corruption, pure and simple, and we need to call it out for what it is," Warren said, offering what she called the "biggest anti-corruption proposal since Watergate" as a solution.

Part of the proposal would require candidates for federal office to post their tax returns online, a measure seemingly aimed at Trump, who has refused to release his filings, as well as an annual "wealth tax" on a net worth above $50 million.

Such a tax, Warren said, could generate revenues to pay for everything from universal day care for children up to 5 years old, to health care, to reducing student loan debt to a proposal known as the Green New Deal.

The crowd roared at the mention of the stimulus package backed by progressive Democrats in Congress to reshape the economy to deal with climate change but decried by others as unrealistic and damaging.

Some in the audience held Warren campaign signs reading, "Persist Persist Persist" and "Dream Big Fight Hard." Others said they came to weigh her stance against the more than a dozen other Democrats running for president.

"I believe in a lot of her ideas but probably won't support her because I don't think she can win," Kris Van Fleet of Holladay said, describing Warren's message as "positive," but perhaps not enough to defeat the president in his bid for re-election.

For Phillip Graves of Bountiful, the event was "a great opportunity to see a presidential candidate, something we don’t get to see a lot here in Utah, especially on the Democratic side."

Graves said he likes both Warren and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who's starting to surge in national presidential polls, "but I’ll take anybody over Trump."

Six-year-old Elizabeth Grace Powell clutched an Elizabeth Warren action figure as she stood in line with her mother after the speech to take a photograph with the candidate.

"She's good," the young girl explained. "She stands up for women's rights."

Warren's daylong visit to Utah started with a brief hike through the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon, "a chance to talk about a national treasure," America's national parks, forests and other public lands.

Those lands can be part of a climate change solution but need protection, Warren said, through a moratorium on new mining and drilling on public lands that she has pledged to put in place on her first day in the White House.

"We should be proud of it and take care of it and fund it," she told reporters, standing beside Carl Fisher, of Save Our Canyons, after walking to the area's amphitheater surrounded by cameras.

Also part of her public lands policy is adding 10,000 new workers to make repairs and improvements similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps that worked on projects in Big Cottonwood Canyon and other federal forests.

Warren also is calling for free admission to national parks.

Asked about how she would pay for her public lands policies, the senator said, "Every budget we put out is a statement of our values." The money spent on national parks and forests is "very modest. We need to increase that."

That includes investing funds to develop outdoor recreational opportunities to help communities that may be affected by her proposed moratorium on mining and drilling.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., walks with Carl Fisher, Save our Canyons, at Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

"That's a great business for a lot of communities in this region and in regions near our national parks all around the country," Warren said, adding that Washington shouldn't be making all the decisions about managing public lands.

She criticized the Trump administration for agreeing to contracts to mine and drill on public lands for "pennies on the dollar. That subsidizes the extraction industry at a cost to every American."

Her second visit to Utah apparently did not include meetings with the Utah Democratic Party. Last year, Warren came to Utah to hold a fundraiser at a downtown Salt Lake City restaurant.

Utah State Democratic Party Chairwoman Daisy Thomas said the party reached out to Warren.

24 comments on this story

"We offered to host an event, as well as offering to host something in the future," Thomas said. "Ensuring our base has an opportunity to get to hear from people wanting to lead our nation is incredibly important to me."

In February, Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama, spoke at a Chicano leadership conference at the University of Utah.

Utah will hold a presidential primary election next year on Super Tuesday, March 3.