Part 1: One-On-One With Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp Of North Dakota
Heitkamp Talks About Running For Re-Election In A Red State
FARGO, N.D. — Senator Heidi Heitkamp is in the midst of a fight to keep her U.S. Senate seat.
The North Dakota Democrat is being challenged by Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer.
We sat down with her for a one-on-one conversation about the campaign, her vote against tax cuts and how toxic politics has become.
TJ Nelson: “She is North Dakota’s junior United States Senator, having first won election in 2012 by a 1 percent vote margin.”
Alison Voorhees: “Now Senator Heidi Heitkamp is running for re-election.
The state’s top Democrat joins us on set. Thanks for being here senator.
Let’s begin with the race itself.
You are the only high-ranking Democrat in North Dakota politics.
In a state now known for voting Republican, are you worried about losing your position to Congressman Kevin Cramer?”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp: “You know the one thing that’s interesting is people always ask me ‘Why do you think you can win?’ and I go because I have. I did 6 years ago and was able to serve the state in three elected positions so I think North Dakota, for all the talk about whether you’re a red or blue state, North Dakota is functionally pretty independent and they vote for the person because they can get to know the person.
We’ve worked very hard, achieved some great results for North Dakota. At the end we trust the voters.”
TJ: A political “attack” ad claims you have taken thousands of dollars from special interests in return for billions in taxpayer handouts.
Americans for Prosperity claims you then turned your back on North Dakotans by voting NO for the Trump Tax Cuts bill.
Which no Democrat voted for.
Do you regret that vote?
Heitkamp: “No, but let’s talk about the premise of the original piece. Number one that’s not me I want everyone to know. We always remark about how interesting it is when people say ‘You look like just my aunt Mable’, well I hope she is good looking. So I don’t think that person looks at all like me and certainly I don’t’ walk that slow and I seldom wear skirts and I wear better shoes.”
TJ: We all thought they could have cast someone closer to you.
Heitkamp:” Yeah, I think they just couldn’t find, if they wanted someone they should have called me up and I would have told the truth. The first thing you have to know is the bill they are criticizing me for Congressman Cramer and Senator Hoeven voted for it and it included a very important provision for North Dakota especially our implement dealers, our farmers and for our small businesses it was called 179. The first claim is false. The second claim, you know at the end of the day you have to balance today with what you think is going to happen in the future and this tax bill literally was as if you handed your children a $1.5 trillion credit card and said ‘Good luck’. Our generation unfortunately has inherited from our parents, the Greatest Generation, and we’re borrowing from our kids. That needs to end. If we wanted to provide a middle class tax cut we could have done much better and in a much more permanent way. This is skewed way to the rich skewed way to businesses and it’s in the long run going to prove to be a bad deal for this country.”
Alison: “You recently had Former Vice President Joe Biden throw his support behind your race. However, Congressman Cramer has the support of Donald Trump. Do you think that will help or hurt your campaign?”
Heitkamp: “At the end of the day, I’m not a big believer that endorsements matter especially in a state where you can get a United State Senate seat or win a United States Senate seat with under 200,000 votes. The endorsements albeit important, I mean, they make for a good news day but they aren’t how people vote. The one thing that I would say that would concern me is that if the voters of North Dakota want someone who’s going to vote with the president 100 percent of the time that’s obviously not me. I think it’s not always good to vote with this president, I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening with trade. I’m deeply concerned about some of the international policies that this president is pursuing and I think there needs to be an independent vote for North Dakota to address some of those concerns. With that said I have the second highest rank of Democrats voting with this president because I think on a lot of the regulatory provisions a lot of the stuff he had done rolling back regulations whether it’s Waters of the United States or Clean Power Plant I think he was right and we are going to support him when he is right and we’re going to oppose him when he is wrong for our state. And I’m not convinced the congressman can say the same thing.”
Wednesday night at 9 in part two: Savanna’s Act, pension reform and the toxic state of politics.