Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s fresh apology to Native Americans on Monday — packaged with a sweeping policy proposal focused on aiding native tribes — is her most recent attempt to put the scandal of her false heritage claims firmly behind her as she runs for president.
It’s not her first try. It’s not even her second.
Warren’s speech Monday marks her third dramatic effort since 2018 to contain ongoing Democratic fears that her claims to Native American heritage will cripple Democrats’ chances of ousting President Trump.
And Trump has taken gleeful delight recently at stoking those fears.
“I did the Pocahontas thing. I hit her really hard, and it looked like she was down and out, but that was too long ago,” Trump said while in Warren’s backyard at a New Hampshire rally last week.
“I should have waited. But don’t worry, we will revive it,” Trump said.
The senior senator unveiled her 9,000-word Native American policy proposal the next day, followed by her second public apology at the Native American Presidential Forum in Iowa on Monday where she expressed regret “for the harm I have caused.”
The apology also comes as Warren has steadily gained support among Democrats following solid performances in the June and July Democratic debates. A poll released last week showed Warren in a statistical dead heat with front-runner Joe Biden.
But doubts remain as to whether she can successfully take on Trump thanks in part to Warren’s heritage gaff.
Warren identified herself for years as Native American on forms and to employers such as Harvard Law School. She originally unveiled a DNA test last October as proof that she had Native American ancestry. The test results backfired as Native Americans argued that citizenship is more than genetics. Warren then made a high-profile appearance at the National Conference of American Indians in February to apologize for the DNA test gaff.
“I understand that tribal membership is determined by tribes — and only by tribes,” she said at the time.
She promised in that speech she would speak out about Native American issues every time her heritage came up as an issue. Warren has remained relatively quiet on the subject since then, however.
And despite her many apologies and policy rollouts, recent reporting suggests that Warren’s campaign-trail coping mechanism remains shockingly similar — simply avoid the subject.
“My job is not to be drawn off into that,” Warren told a New York Times reporter just last week when asked how she would respond to President Trump’s famous “Pocahontas” putdown.
Campaign advisers have also reportedly warned the senator to “avoid engaging on the issue.”
If she wants to take on Trump, she doesn’t have much of a choice.
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