May 24, 2012
The controversy surrounding Elizabeth Warren’s ethnic heritage and whether she misrepresented herself as a minority in the past may have engulfed her Senate campaign and the news media, but in parts of western Massachusetts, voters seem either mystified by it or unconcerned.
Desiree Smelcer, 35, a librarian here, said over lunch at the Egg and I that she had heard the buzz. But Ms. Smelcer, a Democrat who is one-eighth Apache, is more focused on the price of gas.
“I think she could be a little more aggressive about fighting back,” she said of Ms. Warren, who had been shaking hands with diners here. “But I’m more concerned about my own bottom line.”
A new poll out Wednesday in the closely watched Senate race indicated that Ms. Warren’s ancestry — the subject of intense media scrutiny and mockery for nearly a month — has so far not made much difference to voters. The poll, conducted by Suffolk University/7 News in Boston, showed the contest nearly even between Ms. Warren and Senator Scott P. Brown, the Republican who in 2010 snatched the seat long held by Edward M. Kennedy Jr.
Taking back “Teddy’s seat” in deep-blue Massachusetts is a top priority for Democrats, and the race has become the most expensive Senate campaign in the country. Ms. Warren, who had never run for office before, joined the race last year with great fanfare, having developed a national following as a crusading consumer advocate and a darling of the press, with the ability to raise serious money from the party’s liberal base.
But she was caught off guard on April 27 when The Boston Herald reported that Harvard Law School, where Ms. Warren teaches, had once spotlighted her as an American Indian — though she appears thoroughly Caucasian — when the school was under criticism for hiring too many white men. The story has ballooned since then, with opponents saying Ms. Warren has damaged her credibility; supporters say her ancestry is a nonissue.
Other polls have showed the race neck and neck, but Suffolk’s is the first to be conducted since the ancestry story has been marinating. It showed Ms. Warren with 47 percent of the vote compared with Mr. Brown’s 48 percent. It was conducted May 20 through May 22 with 600 likely voters, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. In February, a poll by the same group showed Mr. Brown ahead by 49 percent to 40 percent.
David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk poll, said the results indicated that both campaigns would be spending tens of millions of dollars “in an all-out war to woo the 5 percent of voters who will decide this election.”
The Warren campaign appeared relieved, given the daily drubbing by the Brown campaign and its allies in the news media and blogosphere. “It’s clear that the people of Massachusetts are not distracted by Republican Scott Brown’s negative attacks,” said Alethea Harney, a Warren spokeswoman.
The Brown campaign saw the poll as a modest victory. “We’re pleased with the results, given the fact that Scott Brown has been outspent on television 3 to 1 in the months of April and May,” said Colin Reed, a spokesman for Mr. Brown. (Mr. Brown has been advertising regularly on radio.)
The facts, as they have dribbled out, are these: Ms. Warren has in the past claimed an American Indian lineage, though she has no tangible proof of it. A genealogist who initially said he had discovered that she might be one thirty-second Cherokee subsequently said he could not locate the original documents.
She listed herself in a legal directory in the 1980s and ’90s as a minority in what critics say was an attempt to advance her academic career. In 1996, a Harvard official described her to The Harvard Crimson as a Native American. A Fordham University law review article in 1997 quoted that same official as saying she was Harvard’s “first woman of color.” In 2005, a decade after she left the University of Pennsylvania, it listed her as one of eight “minorities” who had won a particular award.
Ms. Warren has said she learned through “family lore” that she was descended from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes. She has said she listed herself in the legal directory as a minority in order to meet people like herself, though the listing did not specify her ethnicity. She has said she was unaware that Harvard and other colleges had put her forth as a diversity hire.
Officials from the law schools where she has taught have insisted that her ancestry played no role in her hiring and have scoffed at such suggestions.
Elizabeth Warren was born on June 22, 1949 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_warren
June 22nd, 1949
6 + 22 +1+9+4+9 = 51 = her life lesson = Be honest. Face facts. Do the right thing.
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