Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren took her pitch about fighting corruption in Washington and rebuilding the middle class to Minnesotans on Monday at Macalester College, hours after she apologized to American Indians for a blunder over her ancestry.
A crowd of thousands gathered to hear from the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, who used her first campaign trail stop in the state to walk through her signature plans and share her family’s story. She did not touch on some of the Minnesota-specific environmental issues she had commented on ahead of the visit or address the mea culpa she had made at an event earlier in the day.
At an Iowa forum on Indian issues Monday morning, Warren formally apologized for her past claims about having native ancestry — a gaffe that vexed her campaign early on. Last year, she took a DNA test to prove her heritage, a move some tribal leaders criticized.
Warren told the Iowa audience she has made mistakes, and “I am sorry for the harm I have caused.” She said she has learned a lot from conversations with Indian community members. On Friday she put out a detailed plan, one of many her campaign has published, on how her administration would address disparities in Indian communities. The Iowa crowd gave her a standing ovation.
“It was a statement from the heart to people who have welcomed me with open hearts, and I’m grateful for that,” Warren told reporters after the Minnesota campaign event when asked about the apology.
Warren opened the nearly hourlong speech at Macalester by telling how her parents’ financial struggles when she was a child informed her quest to help the nation’s working families.
She’ll hold a roundtable on criminal justice reform Tuesday in Minneapolis before heading to Los Angeles.
Opposes Enbridge line
“Today the question in Washington is, where do you put the minimum wage to maximize profits for giant multinational corporations? Well, I don’t want a government that works for giant multinational corporations. I want one that works for our families,” Warren told the crowd as she paced back and forth against an American flag backdrop.
Many people in the crowd said they were interested in her economic, environmental and college-debt plans. She gave a broad overview of those, talking about her plans to make college free and eliminate most student-loan debt. She drew big applause with her plans to add new taxes on corporate profits and the ultrarich.
Warren had prefaced her Minnesota visit with a tweet announcing her opposition to the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline project.
“The Line 3 pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s public waters, lands, and agricultural areas important to several Tribal Nations. I’m with @MN_350 and Minnesota organizers fighting to #StopLine3 and protect our environment,” Warren wrote.
She also recently said she would stop all mining on federal public lands, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Twin Metals mining company has started the process to try to secure necessary permits to build a copper-nickel mine that would be just outside the Boundary Waters but within the watershed that flows through the protected area.
At Monday’s event in a grassy courtyard outside the Leonard Center Fieldhouse, Warren supporters and undecided voters said they were looking for someone honest and motivational, and above all, someone who can beat President Donald Trump.
Lynda Dahl, an actress from White Bear Township, showed up wearing a Warren pin and said she likes that the senator seems plain-spoken and blunt. She said while some people feel Warren is too liberal to win, she disagrees and would prefer her to Minnesota’s more moderate Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“I think Amy Klobuchar is a great senator. I would love for her to stay a senator,” Dahl said.
Others, like Barbara Suurmeyer of Minneapolis, had still not decided who to support in the Democratic presidential primary next March. Suurmeyer said she is interested in Warren’s economic plans. She said both Warren and Klobuchar would rise above any negative campaigning from Trump.
Warren is the fourth Democratic presidential hopeful — not including Klobuchar — to campaign in Minnesota. Donor data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity showsWarren has relatively strong support in Minnesota, receiving the fourth-most money from Minnesotans, behind Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Bailey Johnson-Cavanaugh was one of several recent graduates and college students at the event who said Warren is currently their top pick. She just graduated from the University of Minnesota and said she had to work 50-hour weeks while taking 19 credits to afford college.
“Many of my friends are in much worse situations than I am, and Elizabeth Warren seems really concerned with making sure that young people aren’t burdened with that debt, but also that we have opportunities going forward,” she said.
The blunder over her tribal ancestry claim was one of Johnson-Cavanaugh’s biggest concerns about Warren, but she said the pros outweigh the cons.
“She seems now to be really dedicated to working for policies that many Native Americans are in favor of,” she said. “And hearing that she is acknowledging that she did wrong and is moving forward from that is definitely good.”
Data reporter Jeff Hargarten and the Associated Press contributed to this report.