Elizabeth Warren in new TV ad: I ‘never got any benefit because of my heritage’

September 24, 2012

Elizabeth Warren never asked for nor received an advantage from employers in connection with her heritage, the Democratic Senate candidate says in a new TV ad released late Monday afternoon. The ad is a direct response to a commercial Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) released earlier Monday that hits Warren over her claim to Native American lineage.

“Let me be clear. I never asked for, never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn't even know about it,” Warren says in the 30-second spot in which she directly addresses the camera.

“Scott Brown can continue attacking my family, but I’m going to keep fighting for yours,” concludes Warren at the end of the spot.

Earlier Monday, Brown released his most aggressive ad of the campaign, a spot that sought to draw renewed attention to Warren’s claim to Native American heritage, an issue that dominated the marquee matchup in the spring.

Warren listed herself in a faculty directory as a minority and informed universities where she was employed of her Native American heritage after she was hired there. She has repeatedly claimed she received no advantage tied to her heritage. Brown has called on Warren to release personnel records to substantiate that claim. 

Warren has not documented her heritage, a fact she address in her new ad. “As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American Heritage. What kid would?” she asks. 

Warren also discussed the impact of her mother’s heritage on her parents' marriage. “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.

Brown raised the issue of Warren’s heritage in the opening minutes of his first debate with Warren last week, signaling the desire to discuss the matter further in the campaign this fall. 

"Professor Warren claimed she was a Native American, a person of color -- and as you can see, she is not,” Brown said at the Thursday night debate in Boston. Warren pushed back, saying: ”I didn’t get an advantage because of my background.”

Polling conducted in the spring after the issue dominated local media attention for about a month showed Warren was largely unharmed by the story. Nonetheless, it detracted from her ability to focus on issues like the economy and Brown’s votes in the Senate.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · September 24, 2012