“Senator Warren knows this is going to be a campaign issue for her and she is trying to clean up the record before she gets into the race,” said Jennifer R. Psaki, a former Obama White House official, invoking birtherism and the 2004 attacks on John F. Kerry’s military service as previous themes that bedeviled Democratic presidential candidates.
“It may not work and it probably won’t slow Trump down from attacking her,’’ she added, “but she has watched enough of these effective conspiracy campaigns by the right to know that the best antidote to absurd lies and smear campaigns is the truth, even if it means acknowledging the false attack.”
It is not unusual for white Americans to carry traces of Native American ancestry, and the methods used to determine Ms. Warren’s ancestry were sound, geneticists said on Monday.
But Native Americans are not well represented in large genetic databases, and precise calculations about who contributed these genes, and when, are difficult to impossible. In any event, ancestry is not the same as cultural heritage, scientists noted, and genetic testing does not resolve the question of whether an individual should be considered Native American.
Yet Ms. Warren clearly is looking at the issue through the prism of the political demands of the moment, namely demonstrating to her own party that she will aggressively confront the president in a 2020 campaign that now appears inevitable.
The video Ms. Warren released includes footage of her three brothers, and other relatives who still live in her native Oklahoma, who declare their Republican loyalties but call the president’s belittling nickname “ridiculous” and “silly.”
It also offers Ms. Warren an opportunity to remind voters of her red-state roots, and Ms. Warren does just that: speaking in her Sooner lilt, with the strains of a steel-guitar in the background, she invokes her “Momma” and her “Daddy” and depicts herself with her family, beer in hand, back in Norman, Okla.