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Elizabeth Warren Condemned Trump in Reno. He Answered in Las Vegas With a Slur.

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© Bridget Bennett for The New York Times
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spoke at a convention for members of the Democratic Party in Nevada on Saturday, drawing a standing ovation with an exhortation to “drive Donald Trump and his enablers out of power.”

By ALEXANDER BURNS, The New York Times
HENDERSON, Nev.

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

It intensified within hours, with a sarcastic, racially incendiary jibe — “Pocahontas” — lobbed by Mr. 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 Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts redoubled her criticism and volleyed the president’s taunt.

“Look, he thinks he’s going to shut me up?” Ms. 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 Mr. Trump and one of his leading potential opponents in the 2020 election. And it unfolded on a portentous 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.

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

Yet 2020 hung over the day from the outset: Ms. Warren, addressing a convention of the Nevada Democratic Party in Reno, thundered against Mr. 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 high office, Ms. 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 Avenue.”

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 Mr. Trump did not, instead looking away from the ostensible subjects of his visit — Mr. Heller and the tax cuts he helped pass — to swing repeatedly at Ms. Warren.

He labeled her, not for the first time, as “Pocahontas,” a biting reference to Ms. Warren’s description of herself as having Native American ancestry. Mr. 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,” Mr. Trump announced, tagging Ms. Rosen with a derisive nickname of her own. “You believe this? In your state?”

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

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

The side-by-side contrast, of Ms. Warren’s event in Reno and Mr. Trump’s in Las Vegas, conjured an image of a presidential matchup defined on one side by unrelenting liberal criticism of Mr. 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 Mr. Trump often speaks in harshly derogatory terms about his political adversaries, Ms. 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 Ms. 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 Ms. Warren did just that. In a tone that mingled defiance with disdain, Ms. Warren accused Mr. 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,” Ms. 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, Ms. Warren said the effort to stop Mr. Trump and his cohort would have to extend beyond 2018 and into 2020. Blasting the tax-cut law that Mr. Trump visited Nevada to tout, Ms. 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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Politics - U.S. Daily News: Elizabeth Warren Condemned Trump in Reno. He Answered in Las Vegas With a Slur.
Elizabeth Warren Condemned Trump in Reno. He Answered in Las Vegas With a Slur.
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