FARGO, N.D. — President Donald Trump urged North Dakota voters on Wednesday to fire “liberal Democrat” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in November, claiming that she promised to be an independent mind but instead has voted in lockstep with her party leadership and against his agenda.
President Trump called for the election of Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer instead.
“When Heidi ran for office, she promised to be an independent vote for the people of North Dakota,” President Trump said to an arena packed with cheering supporters in Fargo. “Instead, she went to Washington and immediately joined Chuck … and Nancy,” a reference to Democratic congressional leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Heitkamp has said she was curious about how President Trump would portray her record, which she says has favored many issues the president cares about, including overhauling environmental and banking regulations. Heitkamp also voted to confirm 21 of President Trump’s 26 Cabinet-level nominations.
But the president noted Heitkamp’s votes against tax cuts he signed into law in December as well as the GOP’s long-sought goal to undo the health care program enacted by President Barack Obama.
President Trump called her a “liberal Democrat” who had to go because he needs more Republican senators to help move his agenda forward. Republicans hold a 51-49 margin in the Senate.
“You need a senator who doesn’t just talk like they’re from North Dakota but votes like they’re from North Dakota,” President Trump bellowed. “That’s what you need and that is Kevin Cramer.”
Called to the microphone by the president, Cramer thanked President Trump for rolling back federal regulations, cutting taxes and, “on behalf of the most vulnerable forgotten people, the unborn babies, thank you for standing for life.”
He pledged to always be with President Trump.
“And on these very important North Dakota values, you never have to wonder where I’ll be because I’ll always be with them and with you 100 percent of the time,” Cramer said.
Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators seeking another six-year term. President Trump won North Dakota by a margin of more than 2-to-1 in 2016.
Although Cramer was among the earliest to back President Trump’s presidential campaign, he has questioned the support he’s received from the president.
He recently called White House chief of staff John Kelly to make clear he was less than thrilled with President Trump’s friendly treatment of Heitkamp, who joined Democrats in voting against tax cuts President Trump enacted last year and has voted against some of his Cabinet nominees.
Cramer has said the hubbub was “more about the White House than me,” but some Republicans think it’s time for President Trump to take on Heitkamp.