LAWRENCE, Mass. — Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formally announced that she was running for president on Saturday at a rally in this former mill town. She was expected to travel later in the day to New Hampshire, before heading to Iowa and four other states.
The selection of Lawrence was symbolic: It was the site, in 1912, of one of the most famous labor strikes in American history, started by a group of women at Everett Mill, where Ms. Warren made her announcement. Ms. Warren drew on the story of the strike as an example of women, many of them immigrants, taking on a system that was heavily stacked against them and triumphing, gaining raises, overtime, and other benefits. She described the American economy today as similarly tilted against the middle class, with government catering to the wealthy donors who fund political campaigns.
“Today, millions and millions and millions of American families are also struggling to survive in a system that’s been rigged, rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected,” Ms. Warren said. She added: “Like the women of Lawrence, we are here to say enough is enough!”
Ms. Warren described how she rose from a childhood as the daughter of a janitor to become a law professor and a senator. That breadth of opportunity, she argued, had diminished in recent decades, as wealth had become more concentrated at the top and the government was controlled by rich donors.
As a law professor, she said, she had studied what happened to families who were economically struggling.
“What I found was that year after year, the path to economic security had gotten tougher and rockier for working families, and even tougher and even rockier for people of color.”
Later in the speech she said: “When I talk about this, some rich guys scream ‘class warfare!’ Well, let me tell you something, these same rich guys have been waging class warfare against hard-working people for decades — I say it’s time to fight back!”
Ms. Warren touted proposals aimed at diminishing the financial industry’s power in Washington and touted her proposed tax on the wealthy, which she dubbed an “Ultra-Millionare Tax.”
“I will fight my heart out so that every kid in America can have the same opportunity I had — a fighting chance to build something real,” she said.
Ms. Warren also received two important endorsements on Saturday, from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and from Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts, who introduced her Saturday.
In practical terms, Ms. Warren entered the presidential race over a month ago and has campaigned in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Puerto Rico since then. But as the Democratic field becomes increasingly crowded, the event in Lawrence was seen as a way to draw a fresh burst of attention to her candidacy.
Her announcement comes as she seeks to establish herself in the race as a champion of liberal policy, like her newly proposed wealth tax, but also as she continues to face questions about her claims to Native American ancestry and her sometimes- awkward attempts to settle the issue.
Questions about Ms. Warren’s ancestry first arose in 2012, when she was running for the U.S. Senate against Republican Scott Brown and it became widely known that she had identified herself as Native American during her early career as a lawyer and law professor. Ms. Warren has said that family lore held that her maternal ancestors included members of the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.
Although there is no evidence that claiming Native American identity helped her professionally, the matter has dogged her throughout her political career. Mr. Trump has long branded her with the slur “Pocahontas,” suggesting that she made up a minority identity.
Brad Parscale, campaign manager of President Trump’s re-election effort, Saturday hit her on the Native American issue and said, “The American people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas like the Green New Deal, that will raise taxes, kill jobs and crush America’s middle-class. “
Ms. Warren also stepped afoul of some Democrats last year when she took a DNA test to prove Native ancestry, which angered some social justice activists and Native American leaders who felt that she conflated tribal blood with citizenship.
Ms. Warren apologized to the Cherokee Nation last week, after months of resisting her own advisers and staff, some of whom had called for her to show contrition earlier. Democratic voters at Ms. Warren’s early campaign stops have repeatedly said the issue was not important to them, but it continues to be discussed.
This week, new questions were raised when the Washington Post reported that in 1986 Ms. Warren filled out a registration card for the State Bar of Texas on which she listed her race as “American Indian.”
Some activists within the party seem to have been satisfied by Ms. Warren’s apology.
Asked about the issue on Thursday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman congresswoman from New York who is seen as a leader of the leftist movement within the party, said on MSNBC that it had not shaken her confidence in Ms. Warren and that Ms. Warren still had time to talk about the difference between recounting her personal history and claiming an identity.
“I look forward to her modeling a public learning process and uplifting those voices,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.
Joel Benenson, who was the chief pollster for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, said he would be surprised if the issue still lingered by the time votes are cast next year.
But he said that she needed to find a way to address it forthrightly and give voters who have made a judgment about it a chance to reconsider.
“She’s probably got to find something between now and then, at least within the Democratic field, to lay it to rest,” he said.