Podcast: Republican Senate Candidate Campbell Says Trump Speech Targeting Heitkamp Was “Frustrating”

File photo of Republican State Senator Tom Campbell in Bismarck, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

The Rob (Re)Port airs from 1-2pm weekdays on 970 WDAY AM and 93.1 FM. You can subscribe to the podcast here.

State Senator Tom Campbell doesn’t agree with the perspective of many political observers that President Donald Trump was awful chummy with Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp during the former’s visit to North Dakota yesterday.

“If he was so chummy…why would he have to come out here?” Campbell, who hopes to unseat Heitkamp for Republicans next year, told me during my radio show today.

That echoes a point Campbell made in a guest post here on SAB today, asking why Trump should have needed to come to North Dakota to get Heitkamp on board with tax reform. Campbell said it was “very clever to do what he had to do” but added that the speech, in which Trump referred to Heitkamp as a “good woman,” was “frustrating.”

Campbell accused Heitkamp of “fighting a lot of the core values North Dakotans support.”

“If he was so chummy…why would he have to come out here?” Campbell, who hopes to unseat Heitkamp for Republicans next year, told me during my radio show today.

I’ve been critical of Campbell for referring to himself as an “outsider” in his campaign ads (he also used that term to describe himself during our interview) so I asked him how someone who has spent six years in the state Legislature can try to brand themselves that way.

“I’m running for a federal office,” Campbell explained. “I have zero days in federal office.”

He noted that he’s only spent 240 days serving in the Legislature (he’s been in office for three 80-day sessions which is how he’s reaching that number), but has spent 40 years in business.

On the procedural front, Campbell didn’t commit one way or another to abiding by the vote of NDGOP delegates at the state convention last year.

In recent election cycle Republican candidates – notably Congressman Kevin Cramer and Governor Doug Burgum – have eschewed the spring convention in favor of campaigning on the statewide primary ballot in June of election years. Cramer didn’t even bother submitting himself as a candidate in 2012 when he was first elected to the House, though he has in subsequent cycles as an incumbent, and Burgum came in third place at the convention in 2016 before winning on the June ballot in a landslide over Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” Campbell told me. “I’m committed to winning at the convention. I haven’t spent a lot of time considering it.”

Asked what, out of his six years of service in public office, commends him to a term in the U.S. Senate Campbell told me he’s a “good listener.”

Here’s the full audio of today’s show (subscribe to the podcast here) which also includes an interview about Trump’s tax plans with the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Tony Saygeh.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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