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Brown, Warren renew fight over Native American heritage controversy

September 25, 2012|By Morgan Little

The gloves are officially off in one of the most tightly contested Senate races of the year, with Sen. Scott Brown bringing personal attacks to the forefront of his campaign against Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.

Brown, who recently has fallen behind Warren in several polls, once again targeted the issue of her Native American heritage with a campaign ad released Monday. The new ad, “Who Knows?” combines a series of news clips about the revelation that Warren was listed as a minority in a Harvard Law School directory, and speculation that she attempted to use her claimed heritage for her own gain.

The issue over Warren’s heritage peaked during the summer and was fanned by Warren’s inconsistent responses to inquiries about the legitimacy of her claims, before eventually fading into the background. But Brown, who also mentioned the controversy early in last week’s debate, is working to bring it back to the spotlight despite Warren’s denials that she ever benefited from her background.

“Professor Warren claimed that she was a Native American, a person of color. And as you can see, she's not. That being said, she checked the box. And she had an opportunity, actually, to make a decision throughout her career,” Brown said when asked about Warren’s character during the first debate between the two. “When she applied to Penn and Harvard, she checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And, you know, clearly she's not. That being said, I don't know, and neither do the viewers know whether, in fact, she got ahead as a result of that checking of the box.”

Warren responded to Brown’s salvo with an ad released Tuesday accusing Brown of “attacking her family.”

“As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would? But I knew my father’s family didn’t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware, so my parents had to elope,” Warren says in the ad.

“Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I’m going to keep fighting for yours,” she concludes.

The fight has even trickled down to members of Brown’s staff. Members of his campaign were recently filmed making “war whoops” and “tomahawk chops” during a rally for the senator in Boston.

“It is certainly something that I don’t condone,” Brown said in an interview with WCVB, but added that Warren’s claim that he held Native American heritage was “the real offense.”

Since delivering a spirited address to the Democratic National Convention earlier in the month, Warren has pulled slightly ahead in the polls for the first time in the campaign. A Suffolk University/7NEWS poll found her leading within the margin of error, 48% to 44% - results markedly similar to other polls conducted around the state.

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morgan.little@latimes.com

Twitter: @mlittledc

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