The duck-and-cover move ran contrary to her Senate campaign, which featured a headline speech at the Democratic National Convention, guest spots with Rachel Maddow, "The Daily Show" and all the other trappings of a national media moment.
But it was also a harbinger of things to come: Since taking office, Warren has kept the lowest of profiles, speaking only to select Massachusetts media outlets while shutting out the national press save for a smattering of interviews, most notably with the liberal-friendly Huffington Post. For a left-leaning icon and national media darling, the role of silent senator is a sharp departure from her rousing campaign and outspoken consumer advocacy.
It's the same tactic used by other first-term senators who entered the chamber to great fanfare, including former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Other outlets hoping to nab Warren's thoughts in the Capitol hallways are either ignored or offered a litany of excuses for why she can't talk, including Warren's own recent explanation that she's "walking right now."
Warren declined to comment for this article, but in a statement her chief of staff Mindy Myers said that the senator is "working hard to advocate for the hardworking families in Massachusetts."
"Sometimes the best way to do that is quietly, letting everyone else take the credit, and sometimes it means not being so quiet and taking a public stand," Myers said, pointing to Warren's first news conference Wednesday on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
By picking her battles and flying under the radar, Warren is working to convert her campaign star-power into a reputation as a serious legislator among her Senate colleagues.
"Your colleagues here are not necessarily as impressed with you as those on the outside might be. You've got to earn their respect, you've got to work hard," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has his own share of admirers. "I think she comes in with a lot of experience given her involvement in a number of different issues over the years, but there's a lot she'll need to learn first and I think it's a good approach, usually the most successful approach."
Warren's conspicuously quiet entrance to Congress, as well as her laser-sharp focus on the Bay State, is in part a bid to prove she's not the carpet-bagging bomb-thrower her critics predicted.
Then-Sen. Scott Brown said early and often during their campaign that Warren was far too extreme, calling her "the founder of the radical Occupy movement."
He took pains to point out that Warren was born in Oklahoma, contrasting her role as a Harvard law professor with his carefully crafted blue-collar, Massachusetts born-and-bred image. One of his campaign ads was titled, "He's one of us," not-so-subtly implying that Warren was not.
Warren's partner in the Senate, interim Sen. Mo Cowan (D), the former chief of staff to Gov. Deval Patrick, said she was doing exactly what she set out to do during her campaign.
"I think she campaigned to work for the people of Massachusetts, and I think that's exactly what she's doing," Cowan said.
Though she has largely eschewed the soapbox, Warren has not hesitated to speak up on her core issues, particularly consumer protection.
When the Senate Banking Committee meets for the first time on Thursday, all eyes will be on Warren to see exactly how she'll approach life on the other side of the dais. But if her first Capitol Hill news conference on Wednesday is any indication, Warren will be leaving her megaphone at home.
Offered an easy chance to blast Republicans over their CFPB stance, a controversial consumer watchdog agency she knows more about than any other lawmaker since she helped to create it, Warren instead pleaded confusion.
"I'm new to the Senate and I confess I don't get this," she said.
Warren is currently participating in a struggle over the CFPB, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul measure.
Republicans have vowed to block confirmation for any director of the agency -- including President Barack Obama's pick in Richard Cordray -- unless Democrats agree to change the agency's structure and give Congress a more active role in setting its budget.
Warren is perhaps uniquely qualified among Democrats to fight this battle, as she was one of the agency's chief architects and would have been its first director had Republicans not vowed to block her from ever getting confirmed.
But even in her own wheelhouse, Warren has preferred to play a supporting role. She participated in her first Capitol news conference Wednesday to endorse Cordray, but she played third fiddle behind fellow Democratic Sens. Jack Reed and Sherrod Brown.
Reed and Brown lit into Republicans as obstructionists bent on letting banks run wild but Warren preferred to play professor, wading through the intricacies of Dodd-Frank and never naming Republicans as she argued that banks were being hurt by the ongoing uncertainty over the agency's director.
And she's already won some fans on the other side of the aisle, most notably Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is her assigned Senate "mentor," and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who sat with Warren during the State of the Union. There's also Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who suggested to the National Review that he might want to work with Warren on the issue of "too big to fail" banks.
By limiting access, Warren has left the national media wanting more, and gobbling up anything she has to give.
When AIG flirted with suing the government last month over the terms of the company's multibillion-dollar federal bailout, Warren's office issued a statement condemning AIG's move and saying it "should thank American taxpayers for their help, not bite the hand that fed them for helping them out in a crisis."
The statement was the type of canned quote that lawmakers pump out almost reflexively following news events and that rarely make any waves among the media.
Warren's statement set off an explosion: highlighted by a Maddow segment calling Warren "Tenacious E" and headlines in the Atlantic Wire, Huffington Post and a string of other outlets.
She has been working overtime in the state, appearing with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to discuss gun control, and touring the state in the aftermath of the blizzard Nemo with Gov. Patrick.
"She's had a mix of being very much upfront and forward on national issues but putting them in the context of what's important for Massachusetts," said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh. "I do think it's a smart thing for her, particularly as she gets established, to be focused on her local messaging."
Massachusetts has bred many high-profile politicians. Secretary of State John Kerry was senator for almost 30 years and was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. And of course, Sen. Ted Kennedy was a national figure long before he began his 47-year career in the upper chamber.
"Ted Kennedy was a national figure from the day he ran, in multiple ways on the international and national scene. If you talk to people in Massachusetts, what they still talk about is his constituent service," Walsh said. "He really brought all of the influence and power he accumulated in Washington to bear upon us locally."
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