Donald Trump revived one of his favorite lines of attack against Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday, questioning her claim she’s part Native American.
“She made up her heritage, which I think is racist,” Trump told NBC News in a phone interview. “I think she’s a racist, actually, because what she did was very racist.”
During her Senate campaign in 2012, Warren was dogged by questions about listing herself as a minority in past professional directories. Trump has frequently brought up the controversy while pushing back against Warren’s broadsides against him, even going so far as to call her “Pocahontas.”
Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren, who lied on heritage.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2016
“She said she’s 5 percent Native American. She was unable to prove it,” Trump continued in the NBC interview. “She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it. Other people who work with her know it. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud.”
The presumptive Republican nominee was eager to respond to Warren’s attack on him at a Monday rally for Hillary Clinton in Cincinnati.
Trump, Warren said, is a “small, insecure money grubber.”
“When Donald Trump says he’ll make America great again, he means make it even greater for rich guys like Donald Trump,” she said. “And watch out because he will crush you into the dirt to get whatever he wants. That’s who he is.”
The campaign event spurred more speculation that the progressive firebrand might join Clinton on the Democratic presidential ticket.
“I hope that she’s selected as the vice presidential running mate,” Trump said. “I will speak very openly about her if she is. She is one of the least productive senators in the United States Senate. We call her ‘Pocahontas’ for a reason.”
In a conference call with reporters organized by the Republican National Committee, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown — who lost his seat to Warren in 2012 — defended Trump’s line of attack, saying she could “take a DNA test” to prove her Native American heritage.
“As you know, she’s not Native American,” Brown said. “She has no Native American background other than what her family told her.”
For conservatives anxiously waiting for Trump to pivot to a softer tone for the general election campaign, the “Pocahontas” reprise was an unwelcome step back.
“This is when you know you’re losing,” Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “When your opponent is talking about working-class Americans and fighting hard to bring working-class Americans back into the mainstream of American economic life, and you are talking about whether someone is 1/32 Native American and suggesting DNA testing. This is so bizarre.”
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) June 28, 2016
“What the hell’s wrong with them? Are they stupid? Are. They. Stupid,” Scarborough added. “Here’s the deal: If you’re going to turn the page — and they’re trying to turn the page with the Muslim ban — you can’t keep turning back.”
In his interview with NBC News, Trump dismissed the idea he needs to pivot in the first place.
“I do what I do,” Trump said. “I’ve listened to this for a long time — at the beginning of the primaries, ‘He should do this, he should do that.’ I won in a landslide!”