Elizabeth Warren on Running for Office: ‘It’s Been a Hard Learning Curve for Me’

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Tom Williams / Roll Call via Getty Images

Massachusetts Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren on March 16, 2011.

Elizabeth Warren says she’s struggled with the “hard learning curve” of electoral politics and was blindsided by the controversy over her decision to report her ethnicity as Native American during her career as a law professor. The issue sent the Massachusetts Senate race on wild detour for more than a month, sucking up column inches and hours of talk radio time as reporters tried to confirm Warren’s ancestry and determine whether her 1/32nd Cherokee claim, which she says was accepted lore in her family, had afforded her any professional advantages, a charge Warren denies.

The frenzy of the story has since worn off and Warren’s campaign insists its effects never materialized in polling or fundraising. But with Warren locked in a dead-even contest with Republican Scott Brown and 72% of voters aware of the issue according to a Suffolk University poll conducted in May, the distraction undoubtedly stung. “Scott Brown could not have bought this coverage,” Mary Anne Marsh, an unaffiliated Democratic strategist in Massachusetts, told me in June, adding that Warren’s halting response was indicative of “a first-time candidate [running] into her first big problem.”

“If I’d been more experienced, I would have moved faster to respond to non-substantive issues,” Warren says in an interview at a campaign office in Newton. The heritage flap was not one she foresaw: “I wish I’d seen this coming. I just didn’t see it coming. OK? I thought this would be all about middle-class economic issues,” she says of the race, revealing more naivety about electoral politics than you might expect from a veteran of a few Washington battles. Asked what she could have done differently in the campaign, Warren struggles to find an answer: “My life I thought was clear. I just don’t know how to answer this, I tried to answer it, but I don’t know how to answer it,” before finally conceding, “I wish I just stood up, told the story faster and said. ‘There it is.'”

Deviating from her regimen of wonky populism is difficult for Warren and she expresses discomfort talking about the minutiae that often inundate a high-profile race like the one in Massachusetts. “When people want to talk about what I’m wearing, it’s hard on me. I don’t want to talk about what I’m wearing. I don’t want to talk about my haircut. I don’t want to talk about whether I move my head too much or wave my hands a lot,” she says. Not 15 minutes before, a supporter in a nearby coffee shop had told Warren she was “too school teachery.”

That’s just part of electoral politics, a game that Warren says she’s still figuring out. “I’m a first time candidate, I’m not a real politician. I say this over and over. I guess the way to describe it is that it’s been a hard learning curve for me,” she says, pausing before she circles back to a populist soundbite, “to understand that parts of the race would not be about what’s happening to our working families.”

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3xfire3
3xfire3

I Hate all business people including entrepreneurs and as a native American I'm still waiting for my share of respiration paymonts and stock in some of the Indian Casinos says Lie-a-Hatha [Warren].

Since Scott Brown is not a Native American like me he doesn't deserve to be a U.S. Senator.

Kyle
Kyle

my best

friend's mom earned $16438 the prior week. she is making income on the

computer and got a $350900 condo. All she did was get lucky and make use

of the steps written on this web site

http://www.LazyCash49.com

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

STILL LIE-AWATHA (D)

Ask a MALE American Indian law grad about LIE-alot (D). You'll get an earful, you'll never forget. Not exactly a Swimmer (D) experience -- but not a drowning, either.

And LIE-watha's "research?" MORE LIES --

http://www.theatlantic.com/bus... 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11... 

" .. Last summer, Harvard researchers published a headline-grabbing paper that concluded that illness or medical bills contributed to 62 percent of bankruptcies in 2007, up from about half in 2001. More than three-fourths of those with medical debt had health insurance.

"But the researchers’ methodology has been criticized as defining medical bankruptcy too broadly and for the ideological leanings of its authors, some of whom are outspoken advocates for nationalized health care .."

Shame on you, LIE-awatha. Shame.

ahandout
ahandout

In liberal speak silly=strong.  Ah no, silly means you are claiming the dizzy hausfrau image.

Oh, I am scared.

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is copping out of her claim

that Wall Street executives are supporting her because she’ll “save

capitalism,” saying she made a “silly” gaffe.

http://www.bostonherald.com/ne...

bobell
bobell

Well, that settles it. How can anyone vote for a woman who calls something "silly"?

ahandout
ahandout

 Dumb bell, she called HERSELF silly.  He, he, ho, ho, I am just a silly little thing.  Silly me.  Stupid you will vote for her and her likeness.  That makes you less than silly on the totem pole.  I call it dumbass.

bobell
bobell

Thank you for that kind and thoughtful reply.

ahandout
ahandout

 Well, liberals vote for silly people all the time.  I can see why you have no problem here.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Murdoch paper Boston Herald continues GOP war on women. They are all such fraidy cats - strong women scare them.

http://gregmitchellwriter.blog...

ahandout
ahandout

 Boo hoo.  The COLUMNIST calls her granny.  The left gets a smidgen of it own BS and cries as usual.

La_Randy
La_Randy

You use to be somewhat coherent, not so much these days apparently.

Is that stellar republican party candidate wearing thin on you?

ahandout
ahandout

 Is Dizzy Lizzy one of those female wrestlers?  They ARE pretty strong and scary. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

In the other thread you complained about others making stupid points. You're pretty tone deaf aren't you?

La_Randy
La_Randy

Huh? When has a tea party, warmongering, republican had a sense of humor?

You would have a better chance of finding financial freedom by buying gold from Beck's website.

ahandout
ahandout

 You don't like humor MrO?  Elizabeth Warren sounds like a bumbling housfrau.  That's the only thing that scary: people on the left will vote for her.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks for proving Ivy's point.

ahandout
ahandout

 I don't work for the Boston Herald, dufus.

edsmo
edsmo

She claimed she was a "woman of color" and a "Native American-Cherokee Tribe" in various Law Directories which in all likelihood advanced her career at the expense of actual and real "women of color" and actual and real "Native Americans".  She denied doing this when the subject was first broached and then issued vague reasons ("to meet others like myself", "I have high cheekbones like those people")  for having done it.  Now she refuses to discuss any of the fraud that she perpetrated at numerous Law Schools and adamantly demands that anybody who questions her about it "stick to talking about the issues".  The problem is that these are the issues.  If there's anything voters will not tolerate it is a phony.  She is a dangerous radical who must be stopped at all costs.

ngrabowitz
ngrabowitz

Just a few questions (implied criticism is intentional, not a byproduct of digital thin skin) 

1) What explains the resurgence of populism as a trope (do a search for use of the word from the decade before the collapse of Lehman.  Needless to say, the adjective/sentiment is old as time but the herd decided - at disparate inflection points over the last four years - to make the word it's new short hand.

2) Do you think there's any 'insider' consensus as to what the word means?  I'd be fascinated if you feel (confidently) the answer is 'yes'.  When you use the word what trait or part of the zeitgeist do you think you're describing?  And do you think (in your own mind and, at least as importantly, as understood by your readers) that the phrase is a neutral descriptor?  

3) My sense is that the answers to my questions are simple and depressing for those of us rooting for the media to do its job better, that the phrase is lazy politico-cultural shorthand (like establishment or even conservative), has amorphous meaning and is used as a pejorative as often as its used to just convey information, and an exercise in getting 'insiders' to agree on the word's definition - as shorthand or for the verbal section of the SAT - would be a collective embarrassment and lead you and the flock to reconsider how you're doing your jobs.  No single, punchy question here except, if you think the above is broadly correct, how do you explain this?  My impression is this blog has a self conception that it covers more than the horse race.  I think that's true but more cause for despair.

sacredh
sacredh

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go. After a stop at the bank, the gas station, the pizza place and the store.

Tero1
Tero1

Just avoid Chick-fil-A if you can.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Mcdonalds has a southern chicken sandwich almost as good and they don't give a damn who you marry as long as you keep buying their food.

Steve Stein
Steve Stein

Warren has another problem, I think.  Perhaps it's part of the response issue.  And she still has time to rectify it.

If I were running her campaign I'd want her to be much more available to the entire spectrum of Boston media, including (especially?) non-NPR talk radio.  This is almost 100% hostile territory for her.  But so what?  She's got to be a Senator to all the people in MA, not just liberals.Getting on with Dan Rea and Howie Carr and Michael Graham and their audiences would demonstrate her toughness, even though she'll get no welcome reception there.  There would be absolutely no downside to this.

catwoman_rules
catwoman_rules

Totally agree. It's seems she doesn't want to hear any opposing viewpoints or sell her viewpoints to opposing listeners. For example, Romney addressed the NAACP.....i'm sure nobody in the audience is going to vote for him, but at least he showed up and gave his speech (didn't pander).

On the other hand, Obama was probably at another Hollywood fundraiser that night.....

Tero1
Tero1

Never mind the fact that Romney only went there to solidify his cred with the bigot wing of the party...

Oh no!! A fundraiser! The horror! No Republican ever did that!

Jim Jensen
Jim Jensen

You haven't learned anything you American Indian imposter!

Cmdr_Casey_Ryback
Cmdr_Casey_Ryback

LIE-AWATHA (D)

Ask a MALE American Indian law grad about LIE-alot (D). You'll get an earful, you'll never forget. Not exactly a Swimmer (D) experience -- but not a drowning, either.

And LIE-watha's "research?" MORE LIES --

http://www.theatlantic.com/bus... 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11... 

" .. Last summer, Harvard researchers published a headline-grabbing paper that concluded that illness or medical bills contributed to 62 percent of bankruptcies in 2007, up from about half in 2001. More than three-fourths of those with medical debt had health insurance."But the researchers’ methodology has been criticized as defining medical bankruptcy too broadly and for the ideological leanings of its authors, some of whom are outspoken advocates for nationalized health care .."Shame on you, LIE-awatha. Shame.

Tero1
Tero1

Thanks for that brain-dead comment. Wanna fling your feces at her while you are at it?

catwoman_rules
catwoman_rules

Fauxcahontas!   Fauxcahontas!   Fauxcahontas!    Fauxcahontas!

Tero1
Tero1

Typical bagger debatin' style...

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

King-sized thoughts right there....

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

'Don't think that's an Olympic event.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

If it was, we wouldn't see it until it was tape delayed anyway but would know ahead of time who won.

bobell
bobell

Mitt Romney proposed it in 2002 but was told it was more suitable for the Summer Olympics.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Ooooo!  A native American dig!  OOOOOO!

catwoman_rules
catwoman_rules

Fauxcahontas!   Fauxcahontas!   Fauxcahontas!   Fauxcahontas!

Jim Jensen
Jim Jensen

It would be a native american dig if she were a native american.

Tero1
Tero1

I love how she gets the right-wing baggers frothing at the mouth. What is it about her that is so troubling to them? Her intelligence? Her strength? Her dignity? Oh I know! She has committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of Groeny and the other baggers; she is not a "smokin' hot babe", thus as a woman, she has nothing meaningful to say.

Cue the bagger misogyny;

3xfire3
3xfire3

Consevatives love Native Americans. We just can't stand people who lie about being a Native American hoping to get something free or participate in Affirmative actions designed to help real Indians.

But as a liar she fits right in with most liberals.

catwoman_rules
catwoman_rules

Dignity?? Strength? ROFLMAO!!!!!

The problem with Elizabeth Warren is her anability to tell the truth. C'mon, she thought she was American Indian with 1/32 part American Indian? Clearly a symptom of an emotional disorder. We're all 1/32 of something...c'mon. If she wanted to meet other American Indians, why didn't she meet with those tribe representatives that came to Boston? This woman is the biggest joke in the 2012 races!  

Lisa S
Lisa S

For the record, the current head of the Cherokee Nation is 1/32 Indian.

Tero1
Tero1

"Dignity?? Strength? ROFLMAO!!!!!"

Yer just jealous. Don't feel bad though, not everyone is a winner in life.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Catwoman

What you're blathering about is the typical rightie BS, plus that about communism and socialism. This is not a question about ideal and ideas, this have simply been turned into a idiotic circus. There's about no rightie including Scott Brown that can go toe to toe with her in basic ideas and idealism, so we get the nonsense instead.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

If she's 1/32 Cherokee and you're 1/32 rational thought, then we're even.

Jim Jensen
Jim Jensen

She a typical lying democrat! American indian imposter!

bobell
bobell

Thank God for Mitt Romney, who invariably tells the truth.

cin
cin

 She's not unattractive, though. Have you noticed that only women under say 50 get the RW all hot and sweaty? It's like women disappear--or have no purpose--after their fertility declines.

Steve Stein
Steve Stein

And as distasteful as the objectification issue is, it's hard not to notice that Scott Brown is *very* pretty.  So perhaps there's something to comparing on this metric.

sacredh
sacredh

He did pose nude for a magazine. There's that.

filmnoia
filmnoia

It's not like these wingnut jerks would know what to  even do with a fertile woman. They's rather cling to their guns.

sacredh
sacredh

Personally, I think a woman after her fertility declines is better. Don't have to worry about birth control and sex is just for fun (and love)? Hmmmm....I vote yes.

sacredh
sacredh

I'll take brains over beauty any day of the week. Looks fade. A person's wit only gets sharper.

sacredh
sacredh

She's not a MILF. I don't think she'd make us a sandwich on demand and she'd tell us to wash our own clothes. Any one of those transgressions would get her burned at the stake in the republican party.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Um, I've seen that capitalized term used a lot.  Can you describe what it stands for in pleasant company?

I assume it does NOT stand for "Mother-in-Law, Female."

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Funny (or sad) Trivia re: Politics and the "-ILF " suffix: 

Wonkette (the web site, not AMC) had dubbed Sarah Palin as the nation's hottest GILF back in 2006. (I know this because she edged out my GIL..er, Governor, Jennifer Granholm.)Over the next 2 years, there'd be an occasional photo of Sarah which would elicit the typical hoots from commenters...but no video or audio ever appeared.

2008 hits, Palin gets "tapped" by McCain and the Wonkette crowd goes wild because "we knew her before she was famous" - high fives all around.

Then Prissy appears on the teevee... o_O 

As one, the Wonkette crowd says "What were we thinking ?!?,

and proceeds to bleach their eyes and brains, claiming they never had the hots for her...

I only check out Wonkette on occasion these days, but it was very amusing to have seen Palin's entry to the national stage from this angle...

sacredh
sacredh

Steve, maybe it's a cultural thing or else I'm only looking at it from a guy's perspective, but I love it when a woman looks at me as a sexual object. If I'm out and a woman glances at my crotch, I give them a smile and a wink.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@sacred:

Mothers I'd Like to...Fetch? Finagle? Fantasize? Flaunt??

Oh.

Then that would indeed make you the mother seducer I'm sure you've always considered yourself.

Pleasant company included.

Pnnto
Pnnto

I think it's one of those new fangled Facebook things.

Mother I'd Like to "Friend".

Steve Stein
Steve Stein

Mother I'd Like to have sexual relations with.  There really is no pleasant way to describe the objectification and misogyny embodied in the term.

sacredh
sacredh

Mothers I'd Like to F.

.

And this is swampland. Where the hell is the "pleasant" company?

Tero1
Tero1

...and she wouldn't respond favourably to a smack on the arse.

3xfire3
3xfire3

First you would have to find someone that would actually want to smack her on the a*s.

That might be difficult.

sacredh
sacredh

I don't know about that. If one was a masochist, a quick punch in the mouth might be just what the doctor ordered.