One of President Trump’s biggest congressional supporters suggested a new racially-charged nickname for presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday, saying in a Fox News appearance that people refer to her as “Sacagawea.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) offered the name as an alternative to “Pocahontas,” which Trump first used during his 2016 campaign to jeer Warren (D-Mass.) for claiming she was of partial Native American origin. Gaetz explained that “Sacagawea” was a better term for her now, as she was “making her way from the Eastern Seaboard into the center of the country.”
Warren this week announced her intention to run for president in the 2020 election, and is presently in Iowa campaigning.
Gaetz’s comment seemingly surprised the Fox News hosts, one of whom pointed out that the term could be offensive.
“When you say things like that, half the world screams at you that you have made a racial slur,” Fox host Melissa Francis said.
That was, in fact, what many people accused Trump of doing, especially when he made a Warren-as-“Pocahontas” reference during a 2017 ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers — an event for which Trump also stood under a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who presided over the forced relocation of Native Americans.
But on Friday, Gaetz rejected the idea that anyone take offense from his comment.
“I am simply saying that this is someone who misrepresented her heritage,” he said. “She wanted to be forward-leaning on this element of her own biography that wasn’t accurate. It’s not about her heritage, it's about trustworthiness.”
Warren has had to answer for claiming ancestors who were Delaware and Cherokee based on family lore ever since she ran to represent Massachusetts in the Senate in 2012. The issue resurfaced in the last several weeks, as Warren, preparing a 2020 run for president, decided to unveil the results of a DNA test to back up her claim — drawing fire that it was culturally insensitive to try to claim native heritage from a genetic test alone.
A spokeswoman for Warren’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.