Political Intelligence

Elizabeth Warren, after first news conference, acknowledges she is trying for more discretion

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Governor Deval Patrick and Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren spoke after meeting today at the State House. (Noah Bierman/Globe Staff)

After a press conference in which she brushed aside several questions with terse answers Thursday, Elizabeth Warren gave an explanation for her reticence. Speaking to a handful of reporters after the press conference, she said she must be more discreet now that she is making the transition from candidate to senator-elect.

“Listen, all I can say is I was a lot more discreet as a candidate than I was in real life,” she said after meeting with Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo at the State House.

Turning to a press aide, she said: “Can I say that? Maybe it’s indiscreet to talk about discretion.”

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Warren made the comments after her first official post-election news conference, a joint event with Governor Deval Patrick, with whom she met for more than an hour.

Warren declined to say which committees she would prefer to serve on in the Senate. After the conference, she said she was still speaking with majority leader Harry Reid about her assignments, but added that she would like to focus on those related to the middle class issues on which she campaigned.

Warren also declined to elaborate on how lawmakers should deal with the oncoming “fiscal cliff,” a year-end deadline to avoid tax increases and large spending cuts in a variety of areas including the military. She said the issue remains under negotiation in the current Congress.

Even when asked about the influx of women into state and federal offices following Tuesday’s election, Warren initially declined to offer her views, deferring to Patrick.

But in a follow-up question, she was more expansive.

“Let’s get serious here. This is 2012, and we’re talking about 20 percent of the United States Senate female. That’s not an overwhelming number,” she said. “The fact that in this campaign and in this Congress, there were debates about equal pay for equal work, over insurance for birth control, tells us that there’s still a lot of work.”

The governor said Warren won her seat because she approached the campaign with conviction, something he hopes Warren brings to the Senate. But Patrick, who made a long and sometimes difficult transition from inspirational candidate to pragmatic governor during his first term, said that does not have to mean a refusal to compromise.

“Guns blazing isn’t the same thing as conviction,” Patrick said in response to a reporter’s question. “Conviction is a set of beliefs, a core set of values from which you make decisions. And that doesn’t that every decision is going to go your way, or that you’re not going to have to make compromise.”

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