You can always tell when a political campaign has landed a punch when they inspire a television rebuttal from the other side.
And what a strange world we’re living in when a Democratic incumbent like Senator Heidi Heitkamp is using a Trump voter to defend her voting record. A tacit acknowledgement from Democrats of how popular the President remains in North Dakota despite the hate for Trump from the party as a whole.
Heitkamp, I’ll remind you readers, is currently trailing in the publicly available polling we have in this race.
Congressman Kevin Cramer’s Senate campaign has been running an ad which features President Donald Trump, during his recent and not-as-expensive-as-reported visit to Fargo, accusing incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp of supporting sanctuary cities (video at the link).
That must have cut pretty deep for the Heitkamp campaign, because they’ve come back with an ad featuring a former law enforcement official who says he voted for Donald Trump and argues that Heitkamp actually has a strong record on border security:
“Heidi voted seven times for tougher border security, and to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes,” former West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen says in the ad:
Notice in the ad that the Heitkamp campaign can’t bring themselves to be directly critical of Trump. Rasmussen doesn’t say that Trump misrepresented Heitkamp’s record. Rather, he suggests that Cramer fed the President bad information.
For what it’s worth, Cramer and President Trump are correct when they point out that Heitkamp did actually vote to protect sanctuary cities. In February of this year Heitkamp voted to filibuster an amendment denying federal grants to sanctuary cities. She voted to filibuster similar legislation in 2016 and 2015 as well.
After the 2015 filibuster the Grand Forks Herald editorial board criticized Heitkamp, calling the vote “misguided.”
In 2013 Heitkamp voted against funding for a border wall.
This year Heitkamp signed on to California Senator Diane Feinstein’s knee-jerk legislation responding to President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for charging illegal immigrants at the border with crimes. A policy which also resulted, thanks to previous court decisions, in the separation of thousands of children from their parents.
I think Heitkamp would like the public to perceive her, at least during this election year, as being hawkish on border security. And to be sure she’s probably more hawkish on the issue than a lot of her fellow Democrats in the Senate chamber.
But is she where North Dakotans want her to be on the issue? I think Cramer probably wins that debate.