Trump Again Calls Sen. Warren \'Pocahontas,\' This Time At An Event Honoring Native American Veterans

HENDERSON, Nev. — The clash began Saturday morning with a populist denunciation of President Trump’s policies, delivered in Reno, by a Democratic senator who is one of his most ferocious critics.

The “soul of our country is at stake,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said.

It intensified within hours, with a sarcastic, racially incendiary jibe — “Pocahontas” — lobbed by Trump himself during a visit to Las Vegas.


And it reached its third, climactic act in yet another arena in this sun-scorched swing state, as Warren redoubled her criticism and volleyed the president’s taunt.

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“Look, he thinks he’s going to shut me up?” Warren said, as laughter echoed from her audience in a crowded brewery in this southern Nevada suburb. “That’s not going to happen, baby!”

The fast-burning, eight-hour exchange between political rivals came about as an accident of Nevada political scheduling, but it played out far more suggestively — as the most direct confrontation yet between Trump and one of his leading potential opponents in the 2020 election. And it unfolded on an important stage, in the cities and suburbs of a state that is likely to be crucial both in the Democratic presidential primaries and in the general election.

Trump came to Las Vegas not to needle Warren but to raise money for an embattled Republican senator, Dean Heller, seeking re-election in a state where Hillary Clinton beat Trump in 2016 by a little more than 2 percentage points. Warren mapped her own Nevada visit — a swing through Reno and the Las Vegas suburbs — in part to help Heller’s challenger, Representative Jacky Rosen, and had planned it well before Trump revealed that he would be in town.

Yet 2020 hung over the day from the outset: Warren, addressing a convention of the Nevada Democratic Party in Reno, thundered against Trump’s administration, bringing a crowd to its feet with exhortations to take on corporate special interests and “drive Donald Trump and his enablers out of power.” In a call to elect more women to higher office, Warren tucked in an oratorical wink to the crowd: One of those offices, she said, was “that really nice, oval-shaped room at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”


The current occupant of the Oval Office, sweeping into an event of his own in Las Vegas, could have easily ignored the presence of a combative critic some 400 miles away. But Trump did not, instead looking away from the ostensible subjects of his visit — Heller and the tax cuts he helped pass — to swing repeatedly at Warren.

He labeled her, not for the first time, as “Pocahontas,” a biting reference to Warren’s description of herself as having Native American ancestry. Trump and other Republicans have questioned that claim, sometimes drawing criticism from Native American tribes for their mocking language.

“Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas,” Trump announced, tagging Rosen with a derisive nickname of her own. “You believe this? In your state?”

His audience laughed along and erupted in boos aimed at Warren and Rosen, seemingly encouraging Trump. The president, who drew a backlash in November for calling Warren “Pocahontas” during an event with Navajo military veterans, noted that he had faced calls to apologize for the epithet.

“I did apologize,” Trump said. “To the memory of Pocahontas, I apologized.”


The side-by-side contrast, of Warren’s event in Reno and Trump’s in Las Vegas, conjured an image of a presidential matchup defined on one side by unrelenting liberal criticism of Trump’s policies and ethics, and on the other side by unrestrained personal attacks on a Massachusetts progressive that are aimed at delighting conservatives. While Trump often speaks in harshly derogatory terms about his political adversaries, Warren appears to inspire distinctive scorn among his likeliest Democratic challengers for re-election. None of more than a dozen other Democrats known to be eyeing 2020 has drawn such a contemptuous label from the president or faced as much early pressure to answer his swipes as Warren.

It was in her final public event of the day — a question-and-answer session with voters hosted by Nevada’s Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto — that Warren did just that. In a tone that mingled defiance with disdain, Warren accused Trump of seeking to distract from what she cast as a popular revolt against his agenda, most recently his “zero tolerance” policy on the border that separated migrant children from their parents.

“How does he do that? He attacks Jacky Rosen and he throws out a racial slur at me,” Warren said, retorting that she would not be “shut up” and noting — as long as Native American heritage was under discussion — that the National Congress of American Indians had condemned the family separation policy.

And again, without explicitly stating her own plans, Warren said the effort to stop Trump and his cohort would have to extend beyond 2018 and into 2020. Blasting the tax-cut law that Trump visited Nevada to tout, Warren suggested she was just getting started.

“I am in this fight,” she said. “And I am in this fight all the way.”

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