'The difference between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders,' according to former FDIC chair Sheila Bair

McKenzie DeGroot
Segment Producer

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has a reputation for, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), being one of the most left-leaning of the Democratic presidential candidates. But former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair has recently been making a “Republican case for Elizabeth Warren.”

And in a new interview with Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move” on Tuesday, the same day as the New Hampshire primary, Bair suggested that the critical difference between Sanders and Warren is that she’s more practical than the self-described Democratic socialist from Vermont.

“The difference between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is she will fight hard to get what she can but then she will take improvements,” said Bair, a Republican appointed to chair the FDIC by George W. Bush in 2006. “She’s not going to be an ideologue and say ‘my way or the highway.’”

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren laughs with fellow Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day festivities in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Sam Wolfe TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2WJE9R8497

In her interview with Yahoo Finance on Tuesday, Bair noted that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was Warren’s brainchild, from “start to finish.” Warren, who was a bankruptcy law professor at Harvard, supervised the creation of the bureau in 2011. Several years earlier, in 2008, she was tapped to serve on a panel examining the post-crisis bailout package known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

“She pretty much took on the whole financial industry to get it done, but she did get it done,” Bair said of Warren’s work on the CFPB, which the Trump administration has since tried to weaken. “It was really her leadership and vision.”

In addition her work on the CFPB, Bair noted another quality that she says distinguishes Warren from Sanders: “I think she’s got that track record as well as understanding markets much better than Bernie Sanders ever thought about understanding them, I think probably more than any of the other candidates, save for perhaps Michael Bloomberg.”

Bair, who said she would vote for Warren but has not endorsed her, added, “There's a market oriented side of her that’s just not coming through with the media coverage.”

Bair does not, however, think this will be an easy ride for Warren, citing difficulties she believes the Massachusetts senator will face throughout the election process.

“I think she understands she’s going to have a challenge in the general election,” Bair says. But, she said, “I think she can absolutely win a general election.”

McKenzie DeGroot is a producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @degrootmckenzie

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