Brown hits Warren over claim of Native American heritage in first debate
September 21st, 2012
05:53 AM ET
2 years ago

Brown hits Warren over claim of Native American heritage in first debate

(CNN) – The candidates were quick to attack Thursday night in their first debate as they vie for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, delivering pointed barbs on their opponent’s character and record.

Republican Scott Brown pounced on the first question in the hour-long event moderated by WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller – a question about a candidate's character. Brown seized the opportunity to tear into Democrat Elizabeth Warren for a comment that has been a drag on her campaign since last spring for claiming Native American heritage–a claim Brown says could have helped her gain employment as a professor at Harvard Law School.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

"Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color and as you can see, she's not," said Brown, who repeated his call for his opponent to release records showing whether she had claimed Native American heritage on job applications. "When you are a U.S. Senator, you have to pass a test and that's one of character and honesty and truthfulness. I believe and others believe she's failed that test."

Brown added that refusing to release the records in question "speaks volumes" about her character.

Warren defended her claim saying that she had learned of her heritage from stories from her family, adding that "my mother was part Delaware and part Cherokee" and denied that she ever used her heritage to gain access to college or employment.

Warren had previously said that she listed herself as having Native American roots while teaching at Harvard University Law School to meet other people with similar backgrounds.

Warren in turn attacked Brown for voting against job-creating legislation.

Sparring over a number of topics ranging from tax legislation to oil subsidies to abortion rights, Brown repeatedly harped on Warren for misrepresenting his views.

Thursday’s event was the first of what are sure to be four lively debates that will help determine the outcome of the hotly contested U.S. Senate seat. And while Democrats currently hold control of the Senate, the outcome of the Massachusetts race is a key factor in determining which party holds sway come January.

Prior to her candidacy, Warren was a top financial adviser to President Barack Obama and the force behind a high-profile agency borne from the 2010 Wall Street reform legislation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She paints herself as the candidate best equipped to fight for the middle class.

Brown bested Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election in 2010 to grab the seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Brown has continually sought to maintain a moderate and independent spirit from the Republican Party as a candidate in the historically blue state of Massachusetts. Brown previously called for a change in language on abortion rights in the Republican Party's official plank and, more recently, denounced controversial comments about "47% of Americans" made by Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a secretly recorded video of the presidential candidate speaking to high-dollar donors posted online Monday and Tuesday.

Though the candidates have been in a dead heat in the polls for the better part of the summer, following Warren speech at the Democrat Convention, a poll released earlier this week was the fourth in as many days to show Warren with an advantage over Brown after months that had the two candidates trading leads.


Filed under: 2012 • Elizabeth Warren • Massachusetts • Scott Brown • Senate
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Don

    Scott Brown can tell by "looking" at Elizabeth Warren that she is not part indian. Pretty cool super powers these conservatives have.

    September 21, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  2. dreucalypt

    Brown is pushing a phony issue in order to obscure the real issue, which is his voting record.

    September 21, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  3. Marie MD

    Way to start a debate from the man who was going to use a vote in the Senate to miss the debate. Thank you Mr. Reid for seeing this ruse for what it was from bown.
    BTW – for a man who thinks so much of himself and his looks you seemed a bit uncomfortable and full of it last night. Sort of like the twit you want to distance yourself from now.
    Just because Warren and is better educated and sounds more intelligent. BTW – you lied about your voting record. I would be more concerned about your lies than about heritage that Warren has never used in her favor because she has a full working brain. You are used to y our bim bos the flake and the mutant.

    September 21, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  4. Donkey Party

    The GOP and their birtherism. So pathetic a party they have become.

    September 21, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    Now you know–where GOP stands for–not for 47%–in fact these animals do not give darn hoot for you–they give golden-umbrella for 1% rich–they ban SS, Medicare!!! Watch out, Democracy!! Watch out!!! God bless us all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 21, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  6. Lyen Lawner

    "Warren pounded Brown over his record, including his opposition to a bill to provide equal pay for women doing the same work as men" ....Bloomberg Business

    September 21, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  7. amlcpamaine

    This is so lame. It's been beaten to death in Massachusetts and there's nothing to it. But Brown has to work diligently to get voters' minds off his record. Bend over for the turtle man again ....

    September 21, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  8. Don

    You can hardly blame Brown for taking this angle. Warren has got him beat on every issue facing American's today. Brown is saddled by a G0P that many feel are completely wacko – he has to wince in pain everytime M!tt commits another high-profile flub. The key for Brown will be to keep his campaign on the clean side (even if he loses) because his political future is still bright – UNLESS he goes the dirty Karl Rove route in this race. We'll see how it goes. TGIF

    September 21, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  9. sick of republican phonies

    A moderate republican is as bad as a Bachmann or Steve King- they support the same legislation. What did Brown's call for change in the language of the party platform result in? Absolutely nothing.

    September 21, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  10. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    When the facts are against you, you argue the law. When the law is against you, you argue the facts. When the facts and law are against you....you impugn the integrity of your opponent. Scott Brown has only hate,lies,and fear left to offer.

    September 21, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  11. Sadie Boyd

    I rather vote for the Indian wannabe than the "job creator"...we have had enough of those wind bags!

    September 21, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  12. Sandy

    Brown was pathetic talking about Warren's heritage. No one cares about her heritage. He sounded like a teabagger asking to see her records. Warren wiped the floor with Brown and exposed him for his votes against women.

    September 21, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    That is one helluva lame reason to send the republican obstructionist Brown, back to the senate. Brown has uncanny powers that detects if a person has American Indian blood in their veins?

    September 21, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  14. GI Joe

    Brown looked small and petty.

    I sure hope the good folks of Massachusetts make the correct choice thiS TIME, and vote out "wall street's favorite senator (brown)".

    ObanaBiden 2012 for a calm steady hand going forward

    September 21, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Did the debate go to issues facing the people of MA? Did they mention that Mittens, the former MA governor is polling over 20 points behind our president? Did they mention that Brown voted against the veterans jobs bill, along with countless other jobs bills, because Turtle McConnell wants our president to lose another term?

    September 21, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  16. onlyfacts

    U.S. Sentors have to pass a test of charactor, honesty and truthfulness? All Republican senators must have cheated on that test. Maybe they just didn't have time to study.

    September 21, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  17. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    test the DNA, its a simple test that can identify if she has any native american blood in her, but I'm willing to bet she is just like obama, a lier.

    September 21, 2012 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  18. Thomas

    Brown is desperate , he should drive around in his old truck and talk about his modeling career .

    He can become a great asset to the banking industry.

    September 21, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. Stuck_In_a_Blue_State

    Hoping for a Brown victory. Warren will just tote the party line and continue the destruction of the Republic.

    September 21, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  20. Ol' Lefty

    Brown a "moderate"? Please. In all the votes that really count, including controlling the Senate, Brown has hewed the straight GOP line.

    September 21, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  21. Joan

    Brown is a RINO. He will say and do whatever he needs to to get elected. Warren is the real deal and will serve the people of Massachusettes very well.

    September 21, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  22. Lahdee Dah

    If Brown thinks he can tell a person's ethnicity by looking at them, he is obviously operating under delusional stereotypes.

    September 21, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  23. Marty, FL

    It's reprehensible how Sen. Brown chose to attack American Indian heritage. Our family has America Indian on my mother's side. One may not know it by "looking at us" as Brown chided, but we are proud of our heritage.

    September 21, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  24. vic , nashville ,tn

    First Scott Brown try to avoid the debate it didn’t work out for him then he try to humiliate Elizabeth Warren on Native American heritage it didn’t work out for him

    The cloud called 47% over republicans till it is move out any attack on democrats no affect

    September 21, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  25. Mitt Painted Himself at Univision for Latino Vote

    Mr. Brown at least she didn't paint herself Tan like Fake Mitt did for an inteview in front of the Latino's. Next Paint Job for Mitt will be Asian or Jewish. His face looked horrific because he forgot to paint the hands as well. Money will not buy this election no matter was the Mitten's does at this time. He does not represent America.

    I do believe she was better at debating than Brown! The voters will not be fooled Mr. Brown this time around.

    September 21, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
1 2