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. Marty, FL

    Brown is shallow and out of line for attacking American Indian heritage. It's not right.

    September 24, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  2. California

    She used to be chief of the Navajo tribe So I've been told by a close friend of hers.

    September 24, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Emma in Baltimore

    How does Elizabeth Warren's Native American heritage cast doubt on her trustworthiness? She has always been a down-to-earth, straightforward, and resolutely honest individual. Those are wonderful and rare qualities in any politician. Attempting to cast doubt on someone's trustworthiness based on information about there heritage really doesn't pass the smell test.

    September 25, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  4. BIll

    I like the way Elizabeth Warren responds to Scott Brown's strange attack. It's interesting that he said in the debate that he could tell she wasn't native American just by looking at her. To me that resembles the Arizona police who apparently are able to tell just by looking at him or her whether a person is an "illegal" or not. Is that the kind of senator for Massachusettes ?

    September 25, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  5. rs

    What is it with today's GOP? First they launch the Birther stupidity. It seems to be is an attempt to make it sound like we the people accidently elected the kitchen staff to the Presidency or something, and THEY are gonna prove it. Then they follow up with voter suppression and "papers please" laws- sure not for the white people, but lets make it so those "others" are embarrassed by their feeble attempts to join in American democracy. Now Scott doubles-down with his built-in Native American detector. "No sir, you can see she isn't one of them". So what IS this? Mad that a Native American is beating him at the polls, or that she is NA and just looks so white? They claim they aren't the racists, but they sure do seem awfully aware of everybody's race- and how to exploit, or contain them.
    Just sick.

    September 25, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    My mind boggles. I could not give two hoots in this 21st century whether she is, was, a full blown cherokee descendant or not. The issuse on the table in this Senate election cannot , should and please will not be decided by this garbage.
    Shall we please talk health care, economy, jobs and overall which if these two candidates give us voters most realistically what we want achieved in the Senate on major issues not birther matters!!
    Do a poll CNN I bet you would not even get 5% to say " this subject matters to me and will influence my vote, do you agree, disagree, have no opinion, not important or am considering you can add 2 &4 together to achieve more than 5%.

    September 25, 2012 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  7. tangledthorns

    Warren is a liar. A person that brings up being 1/32 anything would use it to gain some sort of advantage

    September 25, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  8. JPNAmerican

    Warren you need to get Native Americans to back you up. If you do Scott Brown can't say anything more on the matter.

    September 25, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  9. Daniel Cayman

    Who cares?

    September 25, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  10. steve5150

    Elizabeth Warren is not licenced to practice law in Massachussetts. She has her offices in Massachussetts and has taken and billed cases there for years. IS THIS LEGAL?

    September 25, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  11. cisco4

    Scotts heritage is on the cover of a magazine is about all.. and he and his buddy Republcans friends in the senate..Good for nothing do nothing Republican agenda.

    September 25, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  12. jpmichigan

    You would tink someone running for office whould check facts, before running false ads. Obviously , through out her life she has used mistaken heritage to benefit herself. Therefor, I would queston he honesty!

    September 25, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  13. Sandy

    So much for nice guy Brown. He's turned into a BIRTHER. I live in MA and he just lost any chance of me or my family voting for him.

    Warren 2012!

    September 25, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
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