QUINCY, Mass. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren waded deeper into the presidential primary debate Thursday, sharpening her criticism of Donald Trump and cheering on Bernie Sanders.
The Massachusetts Democrat described the Republican presidential front-runner as a failed businessman who inherited a fortune from his father and then maintained it ‘‘by cheating people, by defrauding people, and by skipping out on paying his creditors through Chapter 11’’ bankruptcy protection.
‘‘Donald Trump claims that the reason he’s qualified to be president of the United States is that he is a very, very, very successful businessman.’’ Warren told reporters after touring a community health care center. ‘‘Donald Trump is not a great business success and it’s time he’s called on it.’’
Warren also said she’s troubled by the authoritarian image she said Trump is cultivating, noting that he retweeted a quote from Benito Mussolini, the 20th century fascist dictator of Italy.
Trump last month said he knew who said the quote, which read: ‘‘It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.’’ He said it didn’t make a difference whether Mussolini or someone else said it because it’s an interesting quote.
‘‘He’s the one who quotes Mussolini,’’ Warren said. ‘‘That is really scary and the American people should pay very close attention.’’
Warren has yet to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary.
On Thursday, when asked if Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race, Warren praised the Democratic senator from Vermont.
Sanders has echoed Warren’s criticism of Wall Street and rising student load debt more than any other candidate.
‘‘He’s out there. He fights from the heart. This is who Bernie is,’’ Warren said. ‘‘He has put the right issues on the table both for the Democratic Party and for the country in general so I’m still cheering Bernie on.’’
Warren declined to say which candidate she voted for in the Massachusetts primary. She said she plans to make an endorsement, but not yet.
She said either Sanders or Hillary Clinton would be a far better president than the Republican candidates — pointing to the ongoing health care debate.
‘‘While the Democrats are saying, ‘Gee is the right answer to improve the Affordable Care Act in the following six ways or go all the way to single payer’ — which is a good debate to have — the Republicans are saying they are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something they can’t quiet describe,’’ she said.
Warren’s comments follow a burst of tweets she sent out Monday, calling Trump a loser and faulting him for ‘‘petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, flagrant narcissism.’’
Trump responded by raising the issue of Warren’s Native American heritage, saying she got into Harvard by saying she was a minority and that her whole life was based on a fraud.
During her 2012 election campaign — when she ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown — Warren was criticized after being listed in law school directories as having Native American ancestry. Brown has endorsed Trump.
‘‘If Donald Trump thinks that by using Scott Brown’s hate-filled attacks on my family he’s going to shut me down then he better think again,’’ Warren said Thursday. ‘‘It didn’t work before and it’s not going to work now.’’