BOSTON – Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren pushed back Thursday against nonstop questions about her claims to be part Native American by saying family members are off limits -- but not before another round of clarifying her personal history.
Warren acknowledged for the first time that she told officials at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she had Native American heritage in a statement released Wednesday night.
The Harvard Law School professor's campaign said in a statement that she gave that information to the schools only after she had had been hired for faculty positions. She had previously confirmed that she had allowed herself to be listed as a minority in a national directory of law school faculty.
"At some point after I was hired by them, I also provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard," Warren said. "My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I'm proud of it and I have been open about it."
Warren grew up in Oklahoma and has provided no documentation of the ancestral claims. She has said her heritage is part of family lore.
She suggested incumbent GOP Sen. Scott Brown has gone too far in suggesting her parents perhaps misled her into thinking her ancestors were Native Americans.
“What kid asks their grandparents for legal documentation to go along with their family stories”? Warren asks in a letter to supporters. “Scott Brown even questioned the honesty of my parents. They are not fair game.”
Brown, who is seeking re-election, responded in part by saying: “My mom and dad have told me a lot of things, too, but they’re not always accurate.”
She and Brown are locked in an expensive, essentially dead-even race that will help decide whether Republicans win control of the Senate.
Warren also had to clarify comments made in a video tape discovered earlier this week.
She claimed to be the “first nursing mother to take a bar exam in the state of New Jersey,” at the 2011 Chicago Humanities Festival in 2011, in a video posted on the group’s website.
Such a claim is practically impossible to prove or disprove.
The Warren campaign responded by saying: “Elizabeth was making a point about the very serious challenges she faced as a working mom — from taking an all-day bar exam when she was still breast-feeding, to finding work as a lawyer that would accommodate a mom with two small children.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.