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Elizabeth Warren officially launches 2020 presidential campaign

Elizabeth Warren launches 2020 bid
Elizabeth Warren launches 2020 bid 11:11

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren officially launched her presidential campaign Saturday morning, over a month after she announced an exploratory committee to test the viability of a bid for the White House.

The rally for Warren's announcement took place in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the site of a 1912 strike by textile workers, making it a symbolic location to launch a campaign largely focused on economic inequality. 

Warren was introduced by a few members of Congress who also endorsed her, including Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who was a student of Warren when she was a professor at Harvard University.

Warren introduced her campaign by telling the story of Lawrence, where laborers -- many of whom were immigrants -- toiled under terrible working conditions. She framed the 1912 walkout by women textile workers as a blueprint for her campaign, one focused on economic inequality.

"These workers – led by women – didn't have much. Not even a common language. Nevertheless, they persisted," she said about the strike, using one of her iconic campaign phrases to applause.

"Hard-working people are up against a small group that holds far too much power, not just in our economy, but also in our democracy. Like the women of Lawrence, we are here to say enough is enough!" Warren said. She said that President Trump was a "symptom of what's gone wrong in America," meaning a "rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."

"This is the fight of our lives. The fight to build an America where dreams are possible, an America that works for everyone. I am in that fight all the way," Warren said. "And that is why I stand here today: to declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States of America."

Warren incorporated systemic racial inequality into her message of fighting economic inequality, saying that "race matters" when discussing issues such as housing prices and criminal justice.

"We can't be blind to the fact that the rules in our country have been rigged against other people for a long time – women, LGBTQ Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities – and we need to call it out," she said. "The rules of our economy have gotten rigged so far in favor of the rich and powerful that everyone else is at risk of being left behind."

She said that her three priorities were to end corruption in Washington, change the rules in our economy and strengthen democracy by enacting voting rights laws. She also discussed top progressive issues like her support for Medicare-for-All and combating climate change, and promised not to receive donations from super PACs or federal lobbyists, challenging every other candidate to do so as well.

"I will never give up on you and your future. I will never give up on your children and their future. I am in this fight all the way," Warren said at the end of the speech. "It's a long way to election day. But our fight starts here. And it starts with you."

She left the stage to the Aretha Franklin song "Respect."

Warren's nascent campaign has been plagued with controversy over a DNA test she took in the fall to show that she has some Native American heritage. President Trump has often taunted Warren, dubbing her "Pocahontas" to mock her heritage claims. To announce the results of the DNA test, Warren used a campaign-style video that tried to directly address questions about her background.

The Cherokee Nation criticized Warren's announcement last year, saying her use of a DNA test is "useless" for determining tribal citizenship and that using DNA analysis to determine connection to any tribal nation is "inappropriate and wrong." Warren apologized to leaders of the Cherokee Nation earlier this month.

Warren also apologized Wednesday afternoon for claiming she was of "American Indian" origin in a Texas Bar registration card from 1986. Warren said she wrote that based on stories her family told about their heritage.

The Trump campaign released a statement about Warren's candidacy on Saturday, calling her a "fraud."

"The American people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas like the Green New Deal, that will raise taxes, kill jobs and crush America's middle-class," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. "Only under President Trump's leadership will America continue to grow safer, secure and more prosperous."

"I am sorry that I extended confusion about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty and for harm caused I am also sorry for not being more mindful of this decades ago tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship," Warren told reporters.

While Warren represents Massachusetts, she was born and raised in Oklahoma, attended college in New Jersey, and taught at law schools in Texas and Pennsylvania before teaching at Harvard. She is a staunch consumer advocate who played a key role in the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration.

Warren was the third senator to officially launch her campaign, after Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has also announced an exploratory committee. Senators Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown and Amy Klobuchar are also publicly mulling presidential bids.   

Ed O'Keefe and Jack Turman contributed to this report.

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