Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no stranger to discussing her personal experiences and upbringing while out on the campaign trail.
But thinks took a particularly emotional turn during a campaign town hall in Iowa on Sunday, Dec. 1, when the Massachusetts senator took a question from 17-year-old LGBTQ high schooler Raelyn, who has only been identified by a single name in news reports.
“I was wondering, if there was ever a time in your life where somebody you really looked up to maybe didn’t accept you as much?” Raelyn, her voice cracking with emotion, asked. “And how you dealt with that?”
Warren paused. “Yeah,” she said slowly, her voice thick with emotion. “My mother and I had very different views of how to build a future. She wanted me to marry well, and I really tried, and it just didn’t work out.”
Appearing to fight back tears, Warren continued: “There came a day when I had to call her and say, ‘This is over. I can’t make it work.’ I heard the disappointment in her voice. I knew how she felt about it.
“But I also knew it was the right thing to do and sometimes you just gotta do what’s right inside,” she said, gesturing to her heart, “and hope that maybe the rest of the world will come around to it. And maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But the truth is, you’ve gotta take care of yourself first.”
I was asked at a town hall “if there was ever a time in your life where somebody you really looked up to maybe didn’t accept you as much?” Here’s my answer: pic.twitter.com/ariYPwvWQr
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 2, 2019
Warren finished by asking Raelyn to give her a hug, as the crowd broke into applause.
Raelyn told CNN that Warren whispered, “We’ve got it. We’re going to be okay. You’re going to get through this. You’re going to be good,” as they hugged.
She said that she was “nervous” about asking the question, as while her immediate family is aware that she is LGBTQ, her extended family — who were visiting for the holidays at the time of the town hall — is not.
Of Warren’s answer, Raelyn said she “loved it,” even though she was worried the senator would be “pressured to answer it” because she was “put on the spot.”
“I was just really touched that she had the courage to answer that question in a different way than she has spoken before,” Raelyn said. “And that she cared enough about me and about her for voters to be able to open up.”
Warren’s first marriage ended after ten years, while she was still in her twenties. She has been married to husband Bruce Mann since 1980.