Cramer, Heitkamp Go Head-to-Head in First Debate in Bismarck

The two candidates went back and forth on major key issues

BISMARCK, N.D. — With the eyes of the nation looking on, Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer went toe–to–toe on the debate stage for the first time.

After being clouded in controversy over her campaign team printing the names of sexual assault victims without their permission, Senator Heitkamp started the night with an apology.

“This is a terrible mistake and the last thing I would ever want to do would be to cause trauma for any victim of violence. I don’t know if I could ever expect these women would accept my apology nor am I asking them to accept my apology but I am praying for guidance and forgiveness as we go forward,” said Senator Heitkamp.

Once the opening statements finished up, Senator Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer began to go back and forth on several issues, starting with their stance on health care.

“ObamaCare has been an unmitigated disaster for this country and especially for North Dakota. We have the same number of uninsured today in North Dakota as we had before Obamacare,” said Rep. Cramer.

“It is an incorrect statement for Congressman Cramer to say he has not ever voted for a bill that he would eliminate the federal protections for pre–existing conditions,” said Senator Heitkamp.

With many farmers struggling to stay profitable after tariffs imposed by President Trump, Cramer and Heitkamp fired opposing viewpoints on how to fight for producers on the national stage.

“If we’re not trading internationally in North Dakota, our ag products, we will not be successful on the farm. These tariffs are going to decimate a very critical and important market for one of our most important cash crops: soybeans,” said Sen. Heitkamp.

“I haven’t stood with China against our farmers, I haven’t stood with Canada against our farmers, I haven’t stood with Mexico against our farmers. When our President picks the tools that he’s going to use, I think we’re obligated to stand with the United States of America. The best way to end the trade war quickly is to be unified on our side, not the other side,” said Congressman Cramer.

Fireworks started going off on the debate stage once the candidates started talking about the handling of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I can’t make an opinion based on what the public opinion poll says today. I have to make a decision exercising my independent judgment, and with a Supreme Court nominee…guess what: there’s no do–overs,” said Sen. Heitkamp.

“Senator Heitkamp keeps creating this illusion that somehow she’s bipartisan, except on the things that really matter. Being independent isn’t an excuse for being wrong. Brett Kavanaugh is a great and really good judge and Supreme Court justice for North Dakota,” Rep. Cramer said.

Things got even more heated when Rep. Cramer confronted Sen. Heitkamp about claiming he raised his own salary in a campaign ad.

“Why would you run an ad like that which you have to know as a former Attorney General is blatantly untrue?” asked Rep. Cramer.

“You were elected with that salary, you should maintain that salary,” said Sen. Heitkamp.

“That answer was so goofy that I should give you my 30 seconds to say it again. Did you listen to yourself?” inquired Rep. Cramer.

“Pay increases are an indicator of how self–interested you are in the job that you’re doing,” said Sen. Heitkamp.

After what Cramer said was a “spirited but fair” debate, both candidates have their targets locked on achieving the main goal: representing North Dakota on the national stage.

Cramer and Heitkamp are set to face off again in another debate on October 26 in Fargo.

Footage of Thursday’s debate courtesy of WDAY TV and Forum Communications 

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections