PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The intense is-she-or-isn’t-she debate over Elizabeth Warren’s Cherokee heritage that has dogged her campaign shows that Scott Brown wants to “talk about anything except how he votes,” the Democratic Senate candidate told TPM on Friday. “Scott Brown knows that if that’s what we talk about, he’s in big trouble in Massachusetts.”
Brown has tried to capitalize on the controversy surrounding Warren’s claims that she is 1/32 Cherokee, and received minority status from her former employers, arguing in a fundraising plea that the incident shows she can’t be trusted. But recent polls show, the dust-up has not affected Warren’s favorability ratings, and the race remains one of the tightest contests in the 2012 election cycle. Warren said she took her time weighing in on the issue herself because, “I wanted to make sure that I was right before I spoke.”
“This is part of my family,” Warren said. “This is how I grew up.” She recently admitted to the Boston Globe that she is “concerned” the flap could damage her campaign.
But she sounded a confident — though raspy — note during her address to thousands of Netroots Nation progressives here Friday. “It was not the convention that did it to me, it was the parties,” Warren said of her hoarse voice. Warren on June 2 avoided a Democratic primary at the state party convention, winning a historic 96 percent of the delegates.
Progressives who have any doubt where Mitt Romney, Brown and their supporters stand, Warren said at Netroots, should consider: Romney wants to repeal financial reform, says that people who are concerned about income inequality are envious and claims that corporations are people.
“No, Mitt, corporations are not people,” Warren said, to applause. “People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they love, they cry, they dance, they live and they die. Learn the difference.”
Warren, who helped conceive and establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said financial markets need one set of rules to ensure a level playing field. “Progressives understand that markets are like football,” she said. “Every game needs rules, a referee with a whistle to enforce those rules. Without rules and a ref, it isn’t football, it’s a mugging.”
Warren later rejected the notion that the climate in Washington can prevent any actual reform — and jabbed her Republican opponent for reportedly shielding banks after voting for a Wall Street overhaul in 2010.
“That has now come to light, and it’s time for the American people to re-engage on this and say, ‘No more,’” Warren told TPM. “I don’t see this as a climate in Washington. I see this as a climate in the whole country.”
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com