WASHINGTON - Like Tea Party Republicans on the opposite end of the political spectrum, progressive US Democrats are riding a populist anti-establishment wave, hoping their champion Elizabeth Warren challenges Hillary Clinton for the White House.
First-term US Senator Warren, a provocative anti-Wall-Street crusader, led a revolt last week against must-pass federal spending legislation weighed down with what she and other Democrats described as giveaways to big banks and wealthy political donors.
They bucked President Barack Obama, who backed the bill. They frustrated Democratic leaders, although the measure ultimately passed.
And they insisted their cause was one Americans would be eager to join.
One year before the 2016 presidential race kicks into full swing, this is Warren's moment.
But the question remained whether the 65-year-old can, or will, translate grassroots support for her positions into a viable presidential run against a woman widely seen as the Democratic frontrunner.
"I'm not running for president," Warren insisted to NPR in a radio interview Monday.
Pressed on how she routinely uses the present tense when describing her lack of White House ambition, Warren repeated: "I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?"
A handful of grassroots Democratic groups are already hoping to prod her into a change of heart.
MoveOn.org announced last week it was launching a pre-campaign Warren-for-president movement. It has 10 full-time employees, and $1 million to spend to recruit staff in New Hampshire and Iowa, the states that vote earliest in the primary contests to decide the parties' nominees.
Their first official meeting is Wednesday in a Des Moines, Iowa cafe.
These are late and modest beginnings compared to the massive infrastructure already in place around Clinton, who like Warren has yet to declare her intentions.
"We're going to be building out what could become the undergirding of an actual presidential campaign, should Elizabeth Warren choose to enter the race," MoveOn spokesman Nick Berning told AFP.
While the political positions of former secretary of state Clinton may come across as vague and centrist, Warren wears her calling on her sleeve: defending middle- and working-class families.
She has clashed with Obama and party establishment. And her revolt last week brought the government to the brink of shutdown.
"There are certainly Tea Party elements to that," a senior Republican Senate aide told AFP.
In 2010 Obama nominated her to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
After her appointment was prevented in the Senate, she successfully ran for a seat in the very body that blocked her.