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Democrat Warren launches her bid to become US President

Joseph Prezioso, AFP | US Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during her presidential candidacy announcement event at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, MA on February 9, 2019.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren officially kicked off her 2020 White House run Saturday with a full-throated pledge to defend working Americans, unbowed by a row over her Native American ancestry that has threatened to nip her campaign in the bud.


“This is the fight of our lives,” Warren told cheering supporters in Lawrence, Massachusetts, against “a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.”

“Millions of families can barely breathe,” Warren said, in a feisty speech that struck aggressively populist and unapologetically left-leaning notes. “It is not right.”

The Massachusetts senator who had announced her intention to run on New Year’s Eve is among the highest-profile of the growing pool of Democrats hoping to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.

The Democratic field is already the party’s most diverse ever in gender, age and ethnic background and one of its more progressive. It includes several well-known women lawmakers, with Senator Amy Klobuchar expected to join their numbers on Sunday.

Warren’s past battles with Wall Street have brought her a large following, and her campaign team has drawn the grudging respect of its rivals. Hoping to ride the momentum of her Lawrence speech, she heads next to early-voting Iowa and New Hampshire, followed by five other states.

But for now it is unclear how badly damaged Warren is by the stubborn controversy over her claim to Native American roots -- a claim Trump has seized upon to belittle her, mocking her as “Pocahontas”.

Hoping to put the controversy to rest, Warren released DNA tests in October but this backfired when they showed her to have only negligible amounts of Native blood, dating back generations. Warren ultimately apologized to the Cherokee Nation.

‘Exposed as a fraud’

The matter reared its head again this week when The Washington Post published what it said was an official 1980s document in which Warren listed her race as “American Indian”.

Trump’s re-election campaign issued a dismissive statement ahead of Warren’s announcement, saying she had “been exposed as a fraud by the Native Americans she impersonated and disrespected to advance her professional career”. It said her “socialist ideas” would hurt workers.

The 69-year-old senator has made the protection of middle-class rights the central pillar of her political message.

Humble origins

Warren called for “big, structural change” in America that would reach beyond new US leadership though she called the Trump administration “the most corrupt in living memory”.

Warren said she would press for steeper taxes on the rich, strong anti-corruption legislation, curbs on lobbyists and a defense of the climate. She also supports universal health care.

She pointed to her own rise from humble origins the daughter of a janitor, she started her schooling in a $50-a-semester community college and ended up teaching law at Harvard arguing that she can help bring a revival of the American Dream.

Warren tried in her speech to appeal to a broad ethnic coalition, saying, “We must not allow those with power to weaponize hatred and bigotry to divide us”.


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