BOSTON (CBS) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) – two pols with their eye on 2020, but taking, for now, different approaches to get there.

On Saturday, Warren was in Holyoke exciting a partisan crowd with partisan rhetoric, and sending them into a delighted frenzy by declaring, “after November 6th I will take a hard look at running for president.”

On Sunday, there was Flake on “60 Minutes,” taking a victory lap of sorts for his role in last week’s compromise delay in the Brett Kavanaugh saga, which he continued in Boston and New Hampshire Monday, explaining: “There’s just no incentive right now to reach across the aisle. When you do it ends up in your opponent’s campaign ads.”

Two potential presidential candidates, two seemingly different approaches. But which one has the right idea?

Barack Obama ran and won the first time on a promise of bipartisan reconciliation. By the time he ran for re-election, that impulse was long gone.

And if legitimate bipartisan outreach is in Donald Trump’s repertoire, he’s keeping it a secret.

John McCain’s death in late August provoked odes to bipartisanship. Five weeks later, we got the partisanship-on-steroids Kavanaugh hearings.

Washington may not know what it really wants. But what about the voters?

A Gallup poll one year ago found a majority want political leaders to compromise, while just 18 percent prefer them to stick to their beliefs even if it produces gridlock.

Could 2020 become a referendum on whether that finding was for real?

Both Warren and Flake vote with their party leadership most of the time and Warren is smart enough to know that the partisan rhetoric she’ll need to get through the presidential primaries might have to be moderated in a general election.

But remember, this isn’t so much about them as it is about you, and what you’re telling these pols you really want.

Jon Keller


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