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.

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"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. dan

    Warren's character seems to be beyond question at this point. At least she has not taken her clothes off and posed in the nude for money. Would Brown prefer that she lie and say she is not part Native American just so she could "pass" as white? Surely that would have helped her career more. His suggestion is offensive. But it is Brown's "flexibility" on character and regulation issues that make him so popular with his wealthy Republican supporters. "All hat and no cattle" as George W. would say.

    September 21, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. v_mag

    Brown said: "When you are a U.S. Senator, you have to pass a test and that's one of character and honesty and truthfulness."
    -–
    Scottie boy, you'd be hard pressed to find a sitting Senator that could pass the test of character and honesty and truthfulness. Why, Mitch McConnell alone could break any lie detector in the world single handed. The only true thing I ever remember him saying is that the number one goal of the Repugnant Party of No was to make Obama a one-term president. And they will fail at that, so he fails the test of competency, also.

    Just a small point, but honesty and truthfulness are practically the same thing. You need to get your pre-planned catch phrases ironed out. Otherwise, you sound like a cliche machine tool of the rich. You know, you sound just like what you are.

    September 21, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. Pete

    Brown is getting like most republicans,desperate.He's htting Warren on a subject that got little political traction months ago,trying it again,nothing new..She is native American,it was proven,maybe not 100% as you'd like so you could go after her on that but she does have native American ancestry in her lineage..Brown must be jealous always wanting the bow and arrow over the cowboy hat,wasn't much back then for role playing were ya,but your good at it now playing something you're not,a decent senator...Quit playing around Brown,you're in a dominently democratic area,you're not Ted Kennedy,never have been,never will,move over and let the democrate drive..

    September 21, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  4. Name

    Warren is a communist!

    September 21, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Lionel

    Brown is a Republican no matter which way you slice it. He is being funded by billionaires and Wall Street.

    This woman does have Native American heritage. So if you are 1/16 Native, why should you not be proud of it.

    Shame on your Brown for using this during a campaign.

    September 21, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  6. gt

    everyone knows that sacagawea pocahontas warren didnt lie on her applications to harvard....she is also related to that famous guide....me full of bulll............

    September 21, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. Tony in Maine

    ...and Elizabeth Warren responds.

    But that isn't headline material, is it?

    But, the right continues to bash the media's "liberal bias."

    September 21, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. 1twinsfan

    "Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color and as you can see, she's not," said Brown.--

    Looks can sometimes tell only one side of heritage. Case in point, actress Cameron Diaz. Half German and half Cuban but she sure looks like she came straight our of Dusseldorf. Cheap shot, Senator.

    September 21, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Seattle11

    Brown is such a piece of Mitt.

    September 21, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. bb

    The real story is why Brown tried to weasel out of the debate with some lame excuse that he had to attend a vote in the senate. But, what he did not expect was Sen. Reid cancelling the voting procedures for the rest of that day to allow a reluctant Brown to attend the debate with Warren.

    September 21, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    Warren is another Obama and Democratic Party subversive. She is entirely in Obama's pocket, and her election would simply strengthen the Obama dictatorship and be enabling of the takeover of America.

    September 21, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  12. 2012liberal

    Did u know that obama is half white but u wouldn't know it just looking at him

    September 21, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. John Smith

    "a person of color and as you can see, she's not" yeah... you can obviously tell someone's heritage by their color. Brown is running away from his records by giving cheap character attacks.

    September 21, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Brown is just nasty!

    September 21, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. Tish

    Warren was excellent and in my opinion won the debate. Brown was very arrogant and condescending. Hope Mass wakes up and pick Professor Warren.

    September 21, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Dean

    ...and she can stop referring to everyone as 'paleface'.

    September 21, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Sorensen

    Is that all this ignorant model can come up with?

    September 21, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  18. yolanda

    Paleface Brown in heap big trouble. Squaw no like 'em.

    September 21, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. bb

    It's pure and simple, Scott Brown is engaging in birtherism. He has started these conspiracy theories to cast doubt on Elizabeth Warren's heritage. He has all but said "show me your Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card and blood quantum test."

    September 21, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Truly

    It comes down to this: Warren is a Collectivist (like Obama).
    At least with Brown, there may be a chance to re-claim our country and save our children.

    September 21, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I looked at her, and I thought, "it's possible", her high cheekbones look like Native American to me.

    September 21, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Bill from GA

    I'm sure that would be the deciding issue if I were voting in Massachusetts.3

    NOT!

    Ask Brown how many times he voted with mcconnell to block PROGRESS on jobs bills.

    September 21, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Scott Brown is going down. This will be one more seat the GOP Senate will lose...

    September 21, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Well, if Brown says that Warren missrepresented his views, then what are his views? Did he ever state those?

    September 21, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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