WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is keen on the current activist campaign to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) into a 2016 presidential run. But he's going to support Hillary Clinton anyway.
"I think it's a good thing," Frank told HuffPost about the Ready for Warren campaign, which began at the July Netroots Nation conference in Detroit. "It'll help keep liberal activity going and keep some pressure on people. But I think what's also very clear -- if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, she'll be the nominee."
Frank's comments came during a late July interview with HuffPost reporters. Frank is an outspoken progressive on many issues, but on some financial issues is more conservative than Warren is, and has maintained relationships with top bankers since leaving Congress. He and Warren are close, however, and he was the chief congressional proponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established under the 2010 financial reform law.
Frank said there weren't many substantive policy differences between Warren and himself or the Obama administration on major policy matters.
"I think it's a matter of tone and culture," Frank said. "Even in Financial Services. Elizabeth's for Glass-Steagall; she also acknowledges that had Glass-Steagall still been in effect, it would not have stopped the crisis. There is this argument, 'Oh, banks are too big.' But there's overwhelming agreement on the reforms and on the regulation and on the Volcker rule. I don't see them as operational."
Warren has advocated for breaking up the biggest banks to eliminate the too-big-to-fail problem, and introduced legislation co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to reinstate the Glass-Steagall division between traditional bank lending and risky securities trading.
Frank noted that Democrats are nearly unanimous on social issues, including LGBT rights, abortion and contraception, but said that Hillary Clinton would have to find a way to explain her vote in favor of the Iraq war.
"There was one area of substantive difference, and I think my side is now winning -- that's on interventionism," Frank said. "I think the, 'Let's intervene, America is the superpower that must maintain order in the world,' I think that's on the run. And I'm delighted with that."
Frank said Hillary will need "to explain why she voted for the war in Iraq and to reassure people that no, she's not ... for more of this or for staying in Afghanistan."
"I think that that had been an issue," he said. "And at this point, here's how things have migrated, I think, politically … there is an overwhelming Democratic consensus that you don't do this, and it's now become the issue on the Republican side between McCain and Graham and Cheney and not just Rand Paul, but some others."
"There was a period when people, Democrats, were told, 'You better vote for a war if you want to run for president,'" Frank added. "And fortunately, that has moved away."