Obama Puts Heidi Heitkamp Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Boy did President Obama hang Senator Heidi Heitkamp out to dry today.

Earlier former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer said he was surprised Heitkamp demurred from a 2016 run for governor, an office she clearly covets. But maybe that surprise isn’t warranted given the political position Heitkamp finds herself in.

As I  noted earlier today Heitkamp’s vote in favor of the Iran deal – which she cast before her announcement about a 2016 campaign – wasn’t a good one for North Dakota economically speaking. In addition to the national security concerns, there’s the fact that Iran’s economic sanctions will likely be lifted soon leaving that country’s state-owned oil industry free to sell into a global market that America’s oil industry is prohibited from entering. That means more oil on the global markets, driving down prices, while American oil remains boxed up in the domestic market.

She has now voted with a President she typically keeps her distance from in favor of a constitutionally dubious diplomatic agreement that is already unpopular with her constituency and now seems likely, given Obama’s intransigence on the oil export ban, to prolong the economic pain one of her state’s most important industries is feeling.

So it’s not surprising that Heitkamp’s first big political push after her controversial Iran vote, which she has admitted won’t be a popular one with North Dakotans, is to start making a lot of noise about lifting America’s oil export ban.

“Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Tuesday said she thinks lawmakers will be able to hatch a deal this year that lifts the ban on crude oil exports,” reported The Hill this morning. “I think the Senate is the place where there’s always opportunity for compromise,” Heitkamp is quoted as saying.

Only, President Barack Obama seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into that plan. “We wouldn’t support legislation like the one that’s been put forward by Republicans,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said this afternoon.

Is that a veto threat? Because that sure seems like a veto threat.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, reacting to the White House announcement, didn’t mention Senator Heitkamp specifically but puts his finger on the perilous political position she finds herself in.

“It certainly seems like the height of hypocrisy that this president in concert with the Democrat Senators who supported him would give the opportunity to sell oil on the global marketplace to the number one state sponsor of terror in Iran while denying the opportunity to sell oil on the global marketplace to U.S. companies that are creating U.S. jobs,” Cramer said in an audio clip sent out by his office today.

There’s the rub for Heitkamp.

She has now voted with a President she typically keeps her distance from in favor of a constitutionally dubious diplomatic agreement that is already unpopular with her constituency and now seems likely, given Obama’s intransigence on the oil export ban, to prolong the economic pain one of her state’s most important industries is feeling.

Talk about getting thrown under the bus.

That’s not exactly the political position from which one announces what would undoubtedly have been an uphill campaign for governor.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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