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Warren Doubles Down, Dodges Questions on Cherokee Heritage Claims

"I won't deny who I am."

9:18 AM, Jun 1, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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In a revealing column by Boston Globe writer Brian McGrory, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren continues to insist that she is descended from Native Americans. Warren called McGrory and spoke with him about the controversy, "sometimes expansively and without the slightest hint of apology about her conviction that she has maternal roots from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes."

"I know who I am," Warren told McGrory. "I know my heritage."

Warren denied that she took advantage of her supposed heritage for professional gain and admitted that she is "concerned" about how the controversy has taken center stage in her Senate campaign. Here's more from McGrory:

Asked how Harvard came to list her as a Native American while she was a visiting professor in the 1992-1993 academic year, essentially a trial run before she was offered a tenured position, Warren replied, “I don’t recall telling them. But I never tried to hide it. I don’t want to mislead in any way on this.’’

When the question was repeated, Warren said, “I don’t know.’’

Warren’s answers were no more enlightening, though never clipped, on other fronts, notably why she told reporters on April 27 that she first learned that Harvard claimed her as a Native American by reading the Herald, only to reverse course in Wednesday night’s campaign statement that acknowledged she had informed Harvard and Penn of her self-identification.

“I misunderstood the question,’’ she said.

Similarly, asked why she never raised her Native American roots with Globe reporter Noah Bierman when he met with Warren in Oklahoma City for a three-thousand word story on her upbringing, published in February, she replied softly, “Noah didn’t ask.’’

Warren heads to Springfield this weekend for the state Democratic party's convention, where she is expected to win the endorsement of the party despite growing concerns among some Democrats that this controversy may overwhelm her campaign. Warren's lone likely primary challenger, immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco, is hoping to get 15 percent (or more) of delegate support in order to face Warren in a primary election on September 6. According to a report from the Boston Herald, that has some in the Massachusetts Democratic establishment scrambling to squelch support for DeFranco this weekend:

Panicked Democrats are circulating a scathing email saying that backing fiery Democratic underdog Marisa DeFranco will only help Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in the latest push to thwart a primary challenge to establishment favorite Elizabeth Warren.

Belchertown Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ken Elstein fired off the last-minute missive to dozens of fellow delegates who will determine Saturday whether DeFranco will appear on the September primary ballot with Warren.

“A vote for DeFranco is a vote for Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell,” reads Elstein’s email, obtained by the Herald. “Ms. DeFranco will convince some delegates that a primary is somehow ‘fair’ (to whom?), or ‘Let the people decide.’ ... Please, do what you can to keep your delegates on track to keep a Democratic Senate.”

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick endorsed Warren earlier this week, an attempt, perhaps, to preempt a fight at the convention. That hasn't stopped DeFranco, who is running to Warren's left and claims to be an "FDR style" Democrat.

But the DeFranco challenge won't be the only headache for Warren in Springfield this weekend. A group of Cherokee activists calling themselves "Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren" will be protesting outside the convention.

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