Warren responds to criticism over heritage in ad
September 24th, 2012
08:49 PM ET
10 years ago

Warren responds to criticism over heritage in ad

(CNN) – The same day her rival hammered her in a political ad for her claims to Native American heritage, Elizabeth Warren fired back in an ad of her own, saying Sen. Scott Brown was attacking her family.

"As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage," Warren says in the spot. "What kid would? But I knew my father's family didn't like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware, so they had to elope."

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"Let me be clear. I never asked for or never got any benefit because of my heritage," she continues, addressing the central concern that Brown has brought up on the campaign trail and at the candidates' first debate last week. "The people who hired me have all said they didn't even know about it."

"Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I'm going to keep fighting for yours," the former Obama administration official concludes.

Earlier Monday, Brown's campaign released a television spot compiling newscasts reporting on Warren's claims, which came in documents from when she was a law professor at Harvard Law School. The spot, designed to cast doubt on Warren's trustworthiness, ends with a reporter asking Warren if there is anything that will "come out about you that we don't already know."

"I don't think so, but who knows," Warren responds.

In May, Warren stirred controversy when she confirmed that she had described herself in faculty directories as having Native American heritage while teaching at Harvard Law School. She said she did so in order to meet others with similar backgrounds.

Opponents quickly seized on her comments, arguing she had tried to use minority status as a way to advance her career. The Crimson , Harvard's student newspaper, printed articles in the late '90s quoting law school administrators hailing Warren's Native American heritage as evidence of faculty diversity.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society provided CNN with initial research showing several members of Warren's maternal family claiming Cherokee heritage. The Native American link extends to Warren's great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith, who is said to be described as Cherokee in an 1894 marriage license application. The genealogical society gathered that information through a 2006 family newsletter and said the original application cannot be located.

Filed under: Elizabeth Warren • Massachusetts • Scott Brown • Senate
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Mass–just vote for Elizabeth.... I do not mislead you.

    September 24, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  2. myviewis

    Her claim to have Native American heritage did make a difference to Harvard and I doubt it stopped there "Harvard's student newspaper, printed articles in the late '90s quoting law school administrators hailing Warren's Native American heritage as evidence of faculty diversity".

    Also, the marriage license application could not be found in order to validate the claim, not even Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC would validate Obama's video and you could see Obama in the video speaking of Redistribution of Wealth.
    And we are supposed to believe this claim??????

    Please, I am sure she has gotten something out of her claim to have Native American heritage, she just didn't think years later with the internet she was going to get caught.

    September 24, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Warren supports the subversive Democratic party, who want to become dictators in America.

    September 24, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. MDDD

    Elizabeth Warren for Senate 2012

    September 24, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  5. ludvig

    I'm 63 years old and always thought my ancestors came from Germany then I had a cousin do some research and she concluded that we came from Holland. It's not that uncommon to hear one thing as a child and find out something else later. Doing a little research on ancestor.com when it was offered up free, I found something else interesting, a 19 year old son living with his 27 year old mother. Looking into it further, I concluded that this guy who worked for the US Mint in New Orleans around the start of the Civil War may or may not have abandoned his family down there taking his son with him North where the 19 year old son lived with his widowed mother. People in the family say this is not true of course and that I'm full of it.

    September 24, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. John Oboho

    One's family history is dear,and Brown has gone overboard in going there,just for the fun of it.It's disgusting.

    September 24, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. 1twinsfan

    Funny that Senator Brown's comments are in response to a question of Elizabeth Warren's character when by even taking this tactic it shows he has none.

    September 24, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. borderless

    Warren: Falsely claim to be part Native American. Get caught lying. Blame family. Then accuse opponent of attacking family. How can she possibly sink lower?

    September 24, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Fact

    Scott Brown was not attacking her family .

    September 24, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    "Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I'm going to keep fighting for yours," the former Obama administration official concludes.
    Unless your family is working for a living in which case she will continue fighting for a bigger piece of your paycheck.

    September 24, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. jmmjr49er

    Oh dear. It seems that tough Harvard Law professor cannot handle the heat or the truth. Lookout, she is fighting for your family.

    Such a sad little victim to her parents lies. Well, maybe Obama will come to her rescue.

    September 24, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  12. JPMinNC

    Scott Brown's comment, to the effect that you can tell who people are just by looking at them, was patently offensive to anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of a racial divide. And his claim that Warren was lying was patently false, as this article demonstrates. The hidden issue is that, while Warren's family was able to escape the economic and social devastation thrust upon Native Americans, there are many who have not been able to escape. This is why we need strong systems of public education, health, and other services. We - the U.S. - have made great progress in the search for social justice, but we're not there yet.

    September 24, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  13. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    Browns going to lose just like the rest of the gop stooges in the house ,he votes the gop bafoon party line of obstruction in the senate ,just show up to vote and the gop has no chance .
    Their voter obstruction works againest them as well and will be their down fall as romney the goof proves every day .

    September 24, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. Robert

    This woman reminds me of a guy at the shipyard where I worked at years ago that would always deny he was part black until there was an opening for a promotion to general foreman in the welding dept. Wow! he just couldn't stop yakking about his heritage. You know what, he got the promotion. I really don't believe this woman at all. Go figure. Bye

    September 24, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. Lionel

    Warren would be a great Senator. She should be allowed to proud of her Native roots.

    The racist Republicans are going to use this against her no matter. I hope the people of Mass sees through this.

    Shame on you Scott Brown and your Wall street backers. I hope you lose in November Scotty.

    September 24, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  16. Bill Carson

    U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren argued a major asbestos case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Did she need a law license ? She may not have had a law license !

    September 24, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  17. Jonquil

    It's cynical, that Scott Brown actually thinks this is something worth pursuing. It's because he has nothing else of consequence on her and if you strip Scott Brown down - to his underwear, if you will - he has nothing of substance underneath a lucky win. He's a lock-stepper, just like the rest of Republicans, bound to duty in the Grover Norquist conquest.

    The people of Massachussetts are smarter than this, Scott Brown. I hope you remember that, after you've been voted-out and you wonder what went wrong. You don't represent a State full of radical fundamentalists, birthers and truthers.

    September 24, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  18. Woman In California

    Ms. Warren, MA is a liberal state and your response is spot on. Brown knows he has no record of accomplishment to run on and just like his mentor Willard, is desperate to win even if it means scaring white voters to the point, they question your heritage and fear you. For some reason or another, Brown seems to think his job has the word "LIFETIME" attached to it and therefore, he's acting like a thug who has been violaed or intruded upon.

    I hope with all my heart you fight back without going dirty, because republicans love to lay down in the mud and nothing would make him happier. Keep giving him a good clean fight with the issues and voters will reward you at the polls.

    September 24, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  19. RawMoney

    So let's see your great-great-great grandmother's birth certificate.

    September 24, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. Dan J

    This is what Elizabeth Warren doesn't get: There are people who identify as Native Americans on applications, etc, that may have even less of a lineage than she does. The difference is that they identify fully with the culture, work within the culture and involve themselves in Native American issues. For them, the culture wasn't given to them, it was earned by them. Elizabeth Warren, in contrast, checked a couple of boxes to get ahead. She took without giving. That is the epitome of the liberal exploitative stereotype. The fact that she doesn't acknowledge this in her ad shows that she is more out-of-touch than I expected.

    September 24, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. geggyg

    Just because a person doesnt have dark skin doesnt mean that they dont have native heritage . Im an Australian and 54 yo and have recently confirmed that my father had an aboriginal mother. My parents had always denied it for family and societal reasons. Im olive skinned with no obvious aboriginal physical traits , as are 3 of my brothers and sisters , one sister is blonde haired and very fair skinned only one brother had any colour and physical traits of an aboriginal Looks are determined by a complicated combination of genetics /DNA.

    September 24, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It seems like a low blow for Brown to have hit on this. Why is this point important? This notation isn't about character but about a distraction.

    September 24, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. Ed1

    Warren trying to play a race card she doesn't even have what a pity.

    September 24, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  24. Steve- Illinois

    So her parents had to elope because her mother was 1/16th native american? She knows how to spin a yarn! There was more native american heritage in her house if she owned playing cards, and poker chips! Thank God she wasn't Irish!

    September 24, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    Law school administrators citing her Native American heritage and that somehow translate to Elizabeth Warren being "untrustworthy?"

    If you're looking for someone not to trust, look no further than Scott telling reporters that his daughters were "available." Creepy!

    September 24, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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