* Issue has dogged Warren since April
* "I am who I am," Warren says
By Tim McLaughlin
BOSTON, Sept 20 Massachusetts Republican Senator
Scott Brown slammed Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren's
claim she is part Cherokee as they squared off in a televised
debate on Thursday in one of the country's most closely watched
U.S. Senate races.
Brown called on Warren, a high-profile liberal supporter of
President Barack Obama, to release her personnel records from
Harvard University to prove she did not gain any unfair
advantage as an ethnic minority when the college hired her in
Warren is trying to regain a seat - which Brown won by an
upset in 2010 in a special election following the death of
Democratic liberal stalwart Edward Kennedy - that would help the
Democrats retain their slim majority in the U.S. Senate.
Accusations that Warren may have received special breaks
because she claimed Cherokee ancestry first surfaced in April,
dogging the Harvard Law School professor and former Obama
administration official and giving Brown a way to challenge her
"As you know ... Professor Warren has claimed she is a
Native American, a person of color. As you can see, she is not,"
Brown said in their first of four TV debates before the Nov. 6
Brown characterized Warren as being disingenuous about her
"I didn't get an advantage because of my background," Warren
replied. "I can't change who I am. I am who I am."
Warren said she was told as a child that her mother had
Native American roots. "When I was growing up, these are the
stories I knew about my heritage," Warren said. "I never asked
anybody for any documentation. I don't know any kid who did."
Inside the studios of WBZ-TV in Boston, Brown kept pressing
the issue, saying all she needed to do was to release her
personnel records to show what box she checked for describing
WARREN LEADS IN POLLS
Brown's salvo came on the heels of two polls released this
week that gave the lead in the race to Warren, chief architect
of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was
established after Wall Street banks buckled during the 2008
She got a political bounce from a fiery speech at the
Democratic National Convention, while women voters continue to
favor her over Brown by a comfortable margin, said Peter
Ubertaccio, chairman of Stonehill College's political science
and international studies department.
"Republicans had no bounce from the GOP convention and their
brand continues to be very unpopular here," Ubertaccio said.
Brown has been working to put distance between himself and
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a former
He has rejected Romney's comment that disparaged 47 percent
of Americans as victims reliant on federal aid. Romney made his
remark in May at a private fundraiser in Florida. A secretly
recorded video of the fundraiser surfaced on Monday
During the debate, Warren cast herself as a champion of the
working class and criticized Brown for voting against three jobs
bills in a row in the Senate.
"I want to go to Washington to fight for jobs," she said.
Known for his pickup truck, good looks and moderate views,
Brown caught Massachusetts' Democratic machine napping when he
emerged from obscurity to beat Martha Coakley, the state's
attorney general, in the 2010 special election.
Ubertaccio said Brown's attack on Warren over the ethnic
heritage issue was a "dangerous" move.
"Voters really moved by that are very likely already with
him," Ubertaccio said.