For days now North Dakota Democrats have – bizarrely, given their party’s white hot hatred of the man at the national level – been bombarding the public with messaging suggesting that President Donald Trump likes Senator Heidi Heitkamp more than her Republican opponent Kevin Cramer.
“Cryin’ Cramer whines to White House about their cooperation with Heidi, Trump compliments Heidi at bill signing,” reads a recent headline from a North Dakota Democratic Party press release.
And here’s Heitkamp campaign staffer Sean Higgins on Twitter pushing the idea that Cramer got the cold shoulder at Trump’s banking bill signing yesterday:
— Sean Higgins (@smhigg) May 24, 2018
But cutting through the fog of this hyper-partisan messaging, which is no doubt an attempt to stop the bleeding in Heitkamp’s plummeting polling numbers, let’s take a closer look at that video of the bill signing yesterday.
Watch Heitkamp position herself so that she’s almost sitting in the President’s lap. Watch her thrust her hand awkwardly at the president, no doubt trying to manufacture a photo-op of the two shaking hands.
What I don’t understand about this ploy from Democrats is how they’re going to make it work.
For one thing, while Heitkamp certainly needs Republican votes to win in North Dakota, she also can’t afford to lose too many votes from her liberal base. With the candidate defining her campaign in terms of Trump’s love for her (don’t forget that radio ad she released last week, too) how many of North Dakota’s liberal voters are going to feel inspired to stay at home? Because, again, their national party has cast Trump as a tyrant yet their home state Senate candidate is trying to put a saddle on the President and ride him across the line to election day victory.
For another thing, how does this “Trump loves me” schtick work when Trump himself inevitably descends on North Dakota in support of Cramer? How will all of this posturing from Heitkamp hold up when Trump directs one of his patented tweet storms at her? Or a few jabs from a podium at a rally here in the state?
Not well, I think.
Heitkamp’s choice of this tack has a whiff of desperation about it.