NEWTON, Mass.—U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that the Wall Street protests were "independent" and "organic," conceding that she misspoke during an earlier interview in which she seemed to be taking credit for the movement.
"What I meant to say was I've been protesting Wall Street for a long time now," the Democrat said following a campaign appearance in the Boston suburb of Newton.
"The Occupy Wall Street movement is organic, it is independent, and that's how it should be," said Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and longtime consumer advocate.
In the earlier interview posted on The Daily Beast website, Warren said her work over the years provided the intellectual groundwork for the demonstrators.
"I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do," she said in the interview. "I support what they do."
Republicans sharply criticized the remark, pointing to the arrests of protesters in Boston and other sites around the country.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts GOP released a new attack video, titled "Matriarch of Mayhem," that intersperses Warren's supportive words about the protests with images of arrests and interviews with a few of the more radical demonstrators, including one man who calls capitalism a "cancer."
Warren said demonstrators must obey all laws.
"Everyone has to follow the law. That's where we start all conversations," she said.
Warren's status as the Democrat most likely to take on Republican Sen. Scott Brown next November further solidified with the decision by another Democrat, Alan Khazei, to withdraw from the race. Khazei, the co-founder of the nonprofit City Year, made his announcement later on Thursday at his campaign headquarters in Boston, surrounded by family and supporters.
Khazei said he wanted to avoid waging a "divisive" Democratic primary that would only help the incumbent win re-election.
"I don't want to do anything that could prevent the defeat of Scott Brown in 2012," he said. "And so I believe the best way for me to be of service is to exit the race at this time."
While congratulating Warren for having "struck a chord" with voters, Khazei stopped just short on Thursday of endorsing her, saying he planned to meet with her in the future.
Khazei had raised $1.3 million for his campaign since the beginning of the year, by far the most of any of the other Democrats, but said he began to think about leaving the race after Warren reported raising more than $3.1 million in a six-week period ending Sept. 30.
Warren praised Khazei and said she was surprised by his departure, but added that it would not change her approach to the campaign.
On Thursday she received the endorsement of Newton Mayor Setti Warren, another former Democratic candidate.
Setti Warren, the state's first popularly-elected black mayor, also withdrew from the race after Elizabeth Warren's entry. Both he and Khazei said Thursday that they had felt no pressure from Democratic party leaders to step aside.
A handful of lesser-known Democrats remain in the race, including state Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco and Herb Robinson, a software writer.
Asked if the potential absence of a competitive Democratic primary might actually weaken the party and leave her less prepared for the give-and-take of a campaign against Brown next fall, Elizabeth Warren said: "I think there are some bank CEOs who think I'm already pretty tough," a reference to her consumer advocacy.