Published 9:33 AM EDT Oct 16, 2018
WASHINGTON – Already eyeing his 2020 re-election bid, President Donald Trump on Tuesday mocked potential Democratic challenger Sen. Elizabeth Warren for taking a DNA test showing she has at least some Cherokee blood.
"Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed," Trump tweeted. "She took a bogus DNA test and it showed that she may be 1/1024, far less than the average American. Now Cherokee Nation denies her, 'DNA test is useless.' Even they don’t want her. Phony!"
Warren lashed back later that morning, calling the nickname "recycled racist name-calling."
She also said he "fumbled and lied" over a $1 million pledge to donate to a charity of her choice if she took a DNA test. Over the summer, Trump did make the offer – but in the context of a hypothetical presidential debate with Massachusetts senator.
"You’ve lost a step, and in 21 days, you’re going to lose Congress," she said.
Trump has often bestowed dismissive nicknames on his rivals. During the 2016 Republican primary, he deemed his opponents "Low Energy" Jeb Bush and "Lyin' Ted Cruz." Since then, he's used the tactic against world leaders, once referring to North Korea's Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man," months before their new-found relationship blossomed at their June summit in Singapore.
And with 2020 on the horizon, Trump has kept up the nicknames against the potential presidential contenders, including Warren and "Sleepy Joe" Biden.
Still, while Warren has heralded her results, the Cherokee Nation did criticize her over the DNA test.
"A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship," Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement. "Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America."
In subsequent tweets on Tuesday, Trump called on Warren to apologize, and thanked the Cherokee Nation "for revealing that Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is a complete and total Fraud!"
Still, Native Americans have also criticized Trump for constantly referring to Warren as "Pocahontas," calling it offensive to their culture.
In replies to Trump, some Twitter users criticized him for using the phrase "even they" when referring to the Cherokee Nation's statement, calling it a disparagement of the tribe.
Some Democrats have questioned the timing of Warren's release of the DNA test, saying it was a distraction less than a month before congressional elections in which the party is trying to win control of the House and Senate.
"Argue the substance all you want, but why 22 days before a crucial election where we MUST win house and senate to save America, why did @SenWarren have to do her announcement now?" tweeted Jim Messina, the 2012 campaign manager for President Barack Obama. "Why can’t Dems ever stay focused???"
Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that the DNA reveal says at least three things: "1)@SenWarren is 100% running. 2)She thinks this Pocahontas crap is a potential problem. 3)She wants to dispose of it now, lest she be Birtherized. The risk I’m sure she considered? This elevates it."