Note : This was originally aggregated from Masslive.com on May 18, 2012
By Shira Schoenberg,
Marisa DeFranco, a Massachusetts Senate candidate, is criticizing her Democratic primary rival Elizabeth Warren for Warren’s inability to handle questions about her Native American ancestry.
“The problem for me is the campaign’s lack of ability to have a clear and consistent message about this issue,” DeFranco told MassLive.com. “They didn’t get in front of it when it first broke. They had several different responses.”
At one point, Warren said she could not remember listing herself as a minority when applying for a job, and she was unaware that Harvard had promoted her as a minority professor. Later, Warren said she is proud of her Native American heritage, and she listed her minority ancestry in a directory so she would be invited to events to meet others like herself.
Warren has not presented proof of her Native American heritage. Bits of the story have trickled out slowly over the last three weeks as additional documents surfaced showing that Warren was listed as a minority at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard Law School.
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DeFranco said she believes the fact that the controversy over Warren’s heritage has lasted for three weeks shows a problem with Warren’s campaign. “We need a Democratic nominee who’s able to define herself first and foremost before the Republican GOP machine comes after you and defines the candidate for her,” DeFranco said. “I will not let Scott Brown define me.”
DeFranco said she was not taking a position on Warren’s listing of her heritage as Native American, or on what the Warren campaign’s response should have been.
DeFranco, an immigration lawyer, has raised little money and gotten little attention in the Senate race. Warren’s other potential primary opponents dropped out early, allowing Warren to focus on defeating Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
But DeFranco said she has collected more than 11,000 signatures to get on the ballot – 10,000 are required to run for Senate – and is preparing for the state’s Democratic convention, June 2 in Springfield.
DeFranco said what differentiates her from Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, is her “real world experience” as an immigration lawyer.
DeFranco pointed to her own emphasis on the increased use of federal money to create jobs.
Warren has gained a national reputation on issues of consumer protection – particularly helping to create the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. DeFranco has tried to challenge Warren there as well. DeFranco said she supports a bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, that would limit the size of banks, capping the amount of deposits and liabilities that any bank can hold relative to the entire banking system. (Brown introduced the bill unsuccessfully in 2010, and re-introduced it this month.) DeFranco, like Warren, wants to introduce a new Glass-Steagall Act, a law separating commercial and investment banks. DeFranco would prohibit the practice of allowing the market to bet on residential mortgage-backed securities.