Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she will run for president, adding a fierce advocate of economic populism to an already crowded field of Democrats in the United States vying for the presidency in 2020.
The Massachusetts Democrat, a leader of the party’s progressive wing, made her announcement on Saturday from an historic site in Lawrence, northwest of Boston, that launched the US organised labour movement.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor-turned-senator, may be the most well-known figure to enter the presidential race. Since being elected to the Senate in 2012, Warren has stood on the most progressive end of the Democratic Party, advocating higher taxes on the wealthy and consumer protections.
Her platform includes a tax on the richest 75,000 Americans.
“Hardworking people are up against a small group of people that holds far too much power, not just in our economy but also in our democracy,” Warren said at the rally in Lawrence. “We are here to say enough is enough.”
She called President Donald Trump a “product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else”.
Native American ancestry dispute
The 69-year-old from the US state of Massachusetts has already become a main target of Trump, who has dubbed Warren “Pocahontas” for previously identifying herself as a Native American, a controversy that has plagued the run-up to her candidacy.
The storm over Warren’s ancestry claim deepened when she sought to neutralise the attacks by releasing a DNA analysis in October, which said that she had a Native American ancestor “six – 10 generations ago”.
The Cherokee Nation blasted Warren for the test, which they said was a false claim to tribal membership, leading the senator to apologise.
Speaking from Washington, Al Jazeera’s correspondent Heidi Zhou-Castro said that as popular as Warren’s wealth reform proposals may be with the liberal base, “she does have quite a liability with her claims of Native American ancestry.”
“She seems to not be able to escape the controversy surrounding these claims,” Zhou-Castro said.
“Democratic voters have said in polls that their primary concern leading up to 2020 is selecting a candidate who can defeat Trump, and they’re worried that just as Trump was able to use Hilary Clinton’s emails scandals and blow that into a big thing that was very damaging to her campaign, that he may use this claim of Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry as her Achilles’ heel.”
Zhou-Castro went on to say that Warren’s major opponent at this point is former Vice President Joe Biden, who despite not yet declaring his candidacy, is leading the field in polling among would-be primary Democratic voters.