President Donald Trump’s remarks about tossing a DNA test at U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a hypothetical debate have not sat well with some top Bay State Republicans, including one who is running to defeat the Cambridge Democrat.
For years Warren has faced controversy over identifying herself as of American Indian heritage, including listing herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools legal directory. Warren addressed the issue in a speech in February in which she said that although she is not a member of any tribe, she learned of her Native American heritage growing up in Oklahoma.
Warren appears to be racially white, and Trump has regularly mocked her over her undocumented ancestry claims, calling her Pocahontas.
At a July 5 campaign stop in Montana, the president joked that he would toss a DNA kit at the senator if the two meet on a debate stage, and offer her $1 million if she was able to demonstrate American Indian ancestry.
“We have to do it gently, because we’re in the me-too generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit and we will slowly toss it – hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm, even though it only weighs probably two ounces – and we will say, ‘I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,'” Trump said to laughter and applause.
“I know what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to bully me and he’s trying to bully women all across this country,” Warren responded on Greater Boston on Monday night. Asked by host Jim Braude why she didn’t submit to a genetic test to put the issue to rest, Warren said, “Why not just give into a bully? And get it off the table? Because that’s not how you deal with bullies.”
Beth Lindstrom, a Republican candidate for Senate vying to challenge Warren in November, indicated she disapproves of the kind of rhetoric the president used at the Montana rally.
Distinguishing herself from Whitman Republican Rep. Geoff Diehl, another candidate for Senate who received his party’s endorsement in April, Lindstrom said she generally agrees with the president on policy, but disagrees on tone.
Diehl was an early supporter of Trump during the Republican presidential primaries, and Lindstrom described him as a more ardent supporter of the president.
“He is a full on presidential supporter. I say where I am on Donald Trump is that I’ll agree with him when it’s right for the people of Massachusetts, and I’ll disagree when it’s not, but always respect the office of the president,” Lindstrom told the News Service during a visit to the press gallery on Monday. Asked where she and the president disagree, Lindstrom said, “What I say: the three Ts. Tone, temperament and Twitter.”
Asked about the president’s DNA test remarks, Lindstrom said, “Like I said, I don’t agree with tone, temperament and Twitter, and that’s all I’m going to say about that topic.”
Asked about the president’s remarks, via email, Diehl said the fault lies with Warren.
“Senator Warren has brought on this problem herself by first stealing two minority appointments she was not entitled to, second for not apologizing for her complete lack of judgement, and third by being more focused on running for President than serving the state that elected her to work for them,” Diehl said.
Running for a second term in the Senate, Warren is not a candidate for president, although she is among the handful of potential Democratic contenders discussed for 2020.
John Kingston, a third Republican candidate for Senate who backed opposition to Trump in 2016, described the issue as a “distraction” when asked to comment.
“That kind of back and forth is a distraction from doing the people’s business, and is a symptom of how broken Washington is. America faces real challenges and the answers aren’t going to come from the extremes of any party or ideology, including those of Elizabeth Warren,” Kingston said in a statement. “Her extreme positions, divisive rhetoric, and unrelenting anger may advance her ambitions, but are destructive to our country.”
Gov. Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican and the top elected member of his party in Massachusetts who is cruising in the polls ahead of his own re-election bid this fall, suggested through a spokesman, that the president’s focus should be on other subjects.
“The Baker-Polito Administration works across the aisle with all levels of government to ensure Massachusetts remains a great place for people to live, work and raise a family,” said press secretary Brendan Moss, when asked for comment on the DNA remarks. “Governor Baker believes the President should focus less on divisive rhetoric and more on finding common ground to address our nation’s biggest challenges, including health care, the opioid epidemic and our broken immigration system.”
Senate President Harriette Chandler condemned the remarks. “As a rule, I do not comment on insulting, misogynistic, racist, or boorish remarks. As this was all of the above, I have no comment,” Chandler said in a statement.