March 19, 2019 / 6:26 AM
CLEVELAND, Miss. (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was walking down a street in the town of Cleveland in the rural Mississippi Delta on Monday when she stopped to examine a small home’s sagging roof.
“You can be sure there’s a lot of love in these homes. They just can’t afford (to fix) it,” state Senator Willie Simmons told Warren during the Democratic presidential candidate’s three-day campaign swing through Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.
Affordable housing is a chief concern for the senator from Massachusetts, who recently reintroduced a $500 billion housing plan she says will create millions of housing units and reduce rental costs by 10 percent.
But the trip to the deep South, the first extended tour of the region by any of the more than dozen Democrats vying for the party’s 2020 White House nomination, also gave Warren an opportunity to try to set herself apart from the crowded and diverse field.
During meetings with housing advocates in Memphis, Tennessee, and walking tours of small Mississippi towns, Warren, who is white, tested and tailored her central message of combating income inequality to black voters, a critical Democratic voting bloc.
The trip outside the mostly white early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire that are drawing much of the early 2020 campaign focus signaled that Warren, 69, intends to make a play for support in other states that also could prove important to securing the nomination.
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