Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren , one of the most prominent faces among Democrats , announced Monday the formation of a committee to weigh a bid for the party’s 2020 nomination for president of the United States.
“America’s middle class is under attack,” she said in a video declaring her intentions. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”
Warren, a 69-year-old Oklahoma native, was a professor at Harvard Law School known for her expertise in bankruptcy law when she was named in 2009 to chair a congressional panel monitoring the massive bailout of Wall Street following the financial crisis.
Subsequently, she helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before winning election to the Senate in 2012.
“No matter what our differences, most of us want the same thing. To be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules and take care of the people we love. That’s what I’m fighting for and that’s why today I’m launching an exploratory committee for president,” Warren said in the video.
The Massachusetts senator becomes the second Democrat to form an exploratory committee, joining Julian Castro, who served as housing secretary in President Barack Obama’s 2008-2016 administration.
Warren took the first step toward a presidential bid two months after an attempt to put to rest a controversy over her claim of Native American heritage appeared to backfire.
Citing “family lore,” Warren has long said that her mother’s ancestors included members of the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.
It became an issue during her 2012 senate campaign, when Republicans accused Warren of having identified as Native American to advance her academic career, seizing on the fact that Harvard listed her as a faculty members with Native American ancestry in a national directory of law professors in the 1990s.
Responding to the accusation in 2012, Warren said she had not been award of the listing until then, while Harvard and the other law schools that employed her issued statements insisting that she had been hired strictly on merit.
Donald Trump revived the issue during the 2016 presidential contest, mockingly referring to Warren as “Pocahontas” when she criticized him while campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Since becoming president, Trump offered to donate $1 million to charity on Warren’s behalf if she could substantiate her claim of Native American heritage. In October, the senator released results of a DNA test.
The testing concluded that “while the vast majority of (Warren’s) ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in (her) pedigree, likely in the range of 6-10 generations ago.”
But the revelation did not defuse the criticism and the Cherokee Nation rejected reliance on DNA to determine Native American heritage as “inappropriate and wrong.”