Opinion
    Next Score View the next score

    JOAN VENNOCHI

    The fight is on — Donald Trump vs. Elizabeth Warren

    Senator Elizabeth Warren.
    Steve Pope/Getty Images/File 2014
    Senator Elizabeth Warren.

    Elizabeth Warren got what she wanted — Donald Trump’s attention.

    And now it’s open war between them, with @elizabethforma calling Trump a “loser,” whose “insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, and flagrant narcissism.”

    The senator started the fight in a recent Facebook post, in which she said he’s “a bigger, uglier threat every day that goes by.” She also accused him of promoting “a form of hate that is virulent and that is bad for our country.”

    Advertisement

    In typical Trump fashion, he counterattacked on a matter his victim prefers to duck: her heritage. “She’s got about as much Indian blood as I have. Her whole life was based on a fraud. She got into Harvard and all that because she said she was a minority,” Trump — the rich man’s son who got into Wharton — said in a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd over the weekend.

    Get Today in Opinion in your inbox:
    Globe Opinion's must-reads, delivered to you every Sunday-Friday.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    To Warren, those are fighting words. They refer to a sensitive issue, first raised in 2012 by Warren’s then-Republican opponent, Scott Brown — now an ex-senator and Trump backer. When she was first hired as a professor at Harvard Law School, Warren was listed as a Native American. Warren said she learned about her background from her family but has no proof beyond that. During their contentious Senate battle, Brown said she identified herself that way purely for career advancement. Although it wasn’t a winning issue for him, “I was hurt and I was angry,” Warren writes in her book “A Fighting Chance.”

    Trump, of course, lives to hurt. Just ask “low energy” Jeb Bush, “lying Ted” Cruz, or “Little Marco” Rubio. His strategy is clear: Everyone’s fair game.

    But in taking on Warren, Trump is challenging someone who knows how to go viral as effectively as he does. After the Times column, she mocked Trump and Brown at South Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, saying they would be great running mates: “‘Celebrity Apprentice’ meets ‘The Biggest Loser.’ ”

    Even as Warren goes after Trump, she still hasn’t endorsed anyone in the presidential primary. After her St. Patrick’s Day zings, she told Gintautas Dumcius of masslive.com that it’s not yet “the right time.” Why? “Because I think the Democratic primary is doing exactly what the Democratic primary should be doing. We’re pushing issues to talk about. . . . Bernie and Hillary are making clear what really matters to Democrats.”

    Advertisement

    To get that nonanswer, Dumcius had to chase her down backstage, and an aide whisked Warren away before he could ask about the Trump comment.

    My Monday morning e-mail seeking reaction to Trump went unanswered.

    Later on, @elizabethforma released her tweetstorm attacking Trump, noting, among other things, that “many of history’s worst authoritarians started out as losers — and @realDonaldTrump is a serious threat.”

    She did not respond to his attack about her family roots, but did tweet some cracks about his: “See how @realDonaldTrump kept his father’s empire afloat using strategic corporate bankruptcies to skip out on debt.”

    Just like Trump, Warren does it her way.

    Advertisement

    As we already know, the leading Republican presidential candidate is an insult machine. When is he going to grow his campaign and base beyond that? He’s still playing to the same slice of angry, mostly white citizens.

    They love him, just like Warren’s base loves her.

    Bully, meet your nemesis.

    Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.