Weeks ago North Dakota Democrats, and Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign, began pushing a narrative about a potential rift between Heitkamp’s challenger, Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer, and Donald Trump. The state party even went so far as to publish a video mocking Cramer because Heitkamp got to stand closer to Trump than he did during the signing of a bank deregulation bill.
That’s an odd and very hypocritical turnabout for North Dakota’s Democrats who, in the 2016 cycle, were describing Trump as “vile” and “unfit for office.” Now they’re gushing about their top-of-the-ticket candidate all but sitting in Trump’s lamp while he’s signing legislation.
But what if there is some truth to the idea that Trump and Cramer are feuding?
Short, by the way, is a former employee of the Koch brothers’ political network. The folks at Americans for Prosperity, also a part of that network, was recently praising Senator Heitkamp for her vote on that aforementioned banking deregulation bill.
Anyway, over the weekend we got news from the New York Times that after his visit with the North Korean leader in Singapore President Trump would be coming to North Dakota and Minnesota. Only, after that news broke, the Cramer campaign said the story was inaccurate. Trump has no visit to North Dakota planned, they said.
Except, this afternoon the Trump campaign announced that they are, in fact, visiting Minnesota:
— Rob Port (@robport) June 11, 2018
So amid frustrations of Trump being too friendly with Cramer’s opponent the President announces a visit to Minnesota, but not to North Dakota.
Right now, with Democrats heavily invested in their Heidi-is-pro-Trump narrative, would be the perfect time for Trump himself to descend on the race and rile up the Republican base for Cramer. Only, that doesn’t seem to be in the works any time soon.
I reached out to the Cramer campaign for an update. “What I know at this point is we do not have a schedule for a Trump visit,” Tim Rasmussen, campaign spokesman, told me. “We hope he’s going to come. We have every indication that he will, but as of right now I’m not aware of a specific date in time.”
Maybe all is well behind the scenes. Maybe there’s no fire behind all this smoke.
But, barring some announcement for a North Dakota visit shortly, this sure looks like a snub.
UPDATE: New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin says Trump will be visiting soon. If he is, per the comments from the campaign above, Cramer doesn’t know about it:
he’s coming back to nd soon, worry not cramer sources
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) June 11, 2018
UPDATE: Cramer campaign manager Pat Finken called me to say that Trump isn’t visiting North Dakota contemporaneous to his swing through Minnesota because the dates didn’t work for Cramer.