December 6, 2018

NYT: Elizabeth Warren Stands By DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

NYT: Elizabeth Warren Stands By DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

Rollout for Elizabeth Warren’s all but certain presidential bid continues to face roadblocks. This morning, The New York Times lays out resounding criticism from the progressive base for her failed attempt to get ahead of issues surrounding her claim of Native American heritage. The same staffers and activists that urged her to run in 2016 are now hesitant to join her bid when there are dozens of other campaigns to choose from:

Elizabeth Warren Stands By DNA Test. But Around Her, Worries Abound.

The New York Times

By Astead W. Herndon

December 6, 2018

The plan was straightforward: After years of being challenged by President Trump and others about a decades-old claim of Native American ancestry, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would take a DNA test to prove her stated family origins in the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.

But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.

Advisers close to Ms. Warren say she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups and her own standing with progressive activists, particularly those who are racial minorities. Several outside advisers are even more worried: They say they believe a plan should be made to repair that damage, possibly including a strong statement of apology.

The advisers say Ms. Warren will have to confront the issue again if she announces a presidential campaign, which is expected in the coming weeks, and several would like her to act soon.

Publicly, at this point, the senator isn’t second-guessing her actions.

“There have been a lot of thoughtful conversations about this, and I appreciate that,” Ms. Warren said in an interview. “I believe for everyone in public life that transparency is crucial.”

Asked if the criticism of the test has inspired any regret, Ms. Warren said: “I put it out there. It’s on the internet for anybody to see. People can make of it what they will. I’m going to continue fighting on the issues that brought me to Washington.”

For some Warren allies and progressive groups, Ms. Warren’s standing by the DNA test amounts to profoundly poor judgment. Some said she was too reactive to Mr. Trump’s attacks — tests results would never silence a president who often disregards facts, they said — and created a distraction from her own trademark message of economic populism. The president revels in repeatedly slurring Ms. Warren as “Pocahontas,” and conservative commentators like Howie Carr of the Boston Herald have enjoyed holding the DNA issue over the senator’s head.

“The biggest risk in engaging a bully is that bullies don’t usually stop, regardless of what the truth is,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director for the progressive political group Democracy for America. Mr. Chamberlain’s group had, in 2014, launched a “Run Warren Run” campaign to encourage her to seek the 2016 presidential nomination.

“When you can’t win an argument,” he added, “then sometimes it’s not worth having that argument.”

Ms. Warren’s allies also say she unintentionally made a bigger mistake in treading too far into the fraught area of racial science — a field that has, at times, been used to justify the subjugation of racial minorities and Native Americans.

Read the full article here.