WATCH: Elizabeth Warren Once Claimed She Had ‘Plenty of Pictures’ Reflecting Native Heritage, Refused to Show Them
Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been trying to put her Native American controversy in the rearview mirror for years, but a newly-resurfaced video of her claiming to have photos that reflect her then-claimed heritage could complicate that effort anew.
The DNA debacle is seen as the ugliest blemish on Warren’s current presidential campaign, but if she becomes the nominee, there’s a pile of unfortunate reminders of just how tightly she clung to her claim of Native American identity.
In a November 2012 interview, then-Senate candidate Warren was asked if she had “anything in the house that reflects her Native American heritage,” and Warren replied “I have plenty of pictures. They’re not for you.”
That clip may only be circulating low-key on social media at the moment, but if Warren becomes the nominee or even the clear frontrunner, it could make for some uneasy questions. Like, what are those pictures, and can we see them?
In another 2012 interview, New England Cable News’ Jim Braude asked Warren whether she’d have made the same claim if she’d been told the story of an African American ancestor, and she replied that she indeed would have claimed to be black under those circumstances.
“If your family heritage had an African American like you have, the grandfather or great grandparent who was a Cherokee, would you call yourself a black, and expect African Americans to accept that?” Braude asked. Yes, he said “a black.”
As Warren gathered her thoughts aloud, Braude clarified “If that same ancestor was black and not Cherokee…”
“It’s not that ancestor,” Warren said, adding “If my Father’s parents had said ‘You can’t marry her because she’s black, and that had been part of our family growing up, that we had two different families?”
“You would be comfortable with saying you’re black?” Braude asked.
“It would be part of identification,” Warren replied.
That clip has also not had wide circulation, and Warren is already in a hole with black voters who are crucial to victory in a Democratic primary.
Warren’s claim was always clumsy, at best. She always seemed to be lawyering her way out of it even as she stuck to it, almost literally telling her interviewers that this was her story and she was sticking to it. She didn’t say “Yes, I’m Native American,” she said variations of “This is the story I was always told.”
Perhaps the most cringeworthy of these efforts, even by the long-ago standards of 2012, was her riff on “high cheekbones” in May of that year.
That’s not going to sound any better in 2019 or 2020.
The racism with which Warren’s opponents — first Scott Brown, and then Donald Trump — approached the issue has acted as something of a heat shield thus far, but if Warren becomes the nominee, she will have to deal with this past anew. The issue is already percolating among supporters of Warren’s Democratic opponents, particularly Bernie Sanders superfans Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball of HillTV.
The issue doesn’t have to be fatal for Warren — maybe she’s got a plan for this — but it would be nice to know what it is before she’s the nominee, and the scrutiny really begins.
Watch the full interview above, via ABC7.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.