As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced senators Thursday about an alleged sexual assault, North Dakota Democrats are criticizing Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer for his comments about those allegations and other remarks relating to women.
The North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party is launching a new digital ad Thursday featuring women listening to the GOP Senate candidate’s remarks and reacting to them. The one minute and forty-second-long video is backed by a five-figure digital buy.
It will run first on Facebook until Election Day, and a state party source said the buy will likely increase and it will also likely be used on other digital platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Hulu..
The ad starts with video of Cramer in a local news interview addressing the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both in high school.
“The point was there was not type of intercourse or anything like that. Nothing happened in terms of a sexual event beyond obviously the attack … Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him?” Cramer said in the interview.
Cramer, who is running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, first voiced heavy skepticism of Christine Blasey Ford’s story of attempted rape after she went public with it. Soon after, he called her claim “absurd” since the alleged assault “never went anywhere” and because both Ford and Kavanaugh “were drunk” at the time. (Reminder: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told the Washington Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”) Then, remarkably, Cramer leaned in further—even though a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, had come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of thrusting his penis in her face at a drunken dorm party at Yale. (“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” Ramirez told the New Yorker. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”)
“Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him?” Cramer told a local TV station in North Dakota on Monday, in reference to Ford’s specific allegation. “It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court? … It should never happen in our society but what if [there’s] 36 years of a record where there’s nothing like that again?”
And what about Ramirez? In Cramer’s version of reality, her claim is “far more suspicious even than the first one,” since she “is not even really sure what she saw.” Cramer’s campaign did not respond to a request from Slate on Wednesday for comment on the allegations of a third woman, Julie Swetnick, who says she witnessed Kavanaugh engage in repeated nonconsensual sexual conduct when she knew him during his high school years. He did, however, flesh out his argument slightly in a brief interview with Politico, explaining that while the assault wouldn’t be disqualifying, lying about it would. “If it’s proven to be true, the issue isn’t so much about the [events of] 36 years ago, but what’s more concerning to me is that he’s been lying about it.”
As illogical as Cramer’s comments are in the real world, they’re arguably just as illogical on the campaign trail. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, after all, was supposed to be a political weaponCramer could use against Heitkamp in a state that went for Trump by 36 points two years ago. If Heitkamp votes against confirmation, she risks undercutting the bipartisan image she’s running on. But if she votes for confirmation, she’ll infuriate a significant slice of her liberal base. Heitkamp will have to confront that dilemma if and when the Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination, but in the meantime Cramer’s remarks are giving her plenty of breathing room.
Cramer, whose Senate campaign is one of the GOP's best prospects to capture a Democratic-held Senate seat this fall, took heat from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-N.D.) campaign this week for saying that regardless of whether Christine Blasey Ford's allegation is “all true,” the veracity of Kavanaugh's denials are the disqualifying factor for his nomination. The third-term Republican reiterated that perspective on Ford's allegation to POLITICO on Wednesday.
“If it's proven to be true, the issue isn't so much about the [events of] 36 years ago, but what's more concerning to me is that he's been lying about it,” Cramer said in a brief interview.
While he described the nature of Ford's allegation as “tragic and unfortunate and awful,” Cramer added that it alone “might not be the disqualifying factor — but what becomes disqualifying is” whether Kavanaugh lied about it this month after Ford came forward.
While Cramer has certainly been giving Heitkamp a lot of ammo but she’s going a different route attacking Cramer:
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has a new ad attacking her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, for paying his wife more than $150,000 out of his campaign account.
The ad is the moderate Democrat’s most direct shot at Cramer so far in the campaign and the first ad to mention Cramer’s history of paying family members out of his campaign funds. The pair are locked in a tight race, and Heitkamp is considered perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the country. President Donald Trump won North Dakota by more than 30 percentage points in 2016, and Republicans hope a victory in North Dakota would extinguish Democratic hopes of winning the Senate.
The 30-second spot also attacks Cramer for hiking utility rates after taking donations from oil and gas companies, and for raising his own pay when he was a member of the Public Service Commission.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who has not said how she'll vote on Kavanaugh amid a tough re-election fight, said the hearing will take time to “fully digest” but said Ford showed “courage” by coming forward and that it was “important” for Kavanaugh to tell his side of the story. In a statement, she said an FBI investigation “should have” occurred, but she didn't go as far as Democrats on the committee who pushed for one Thursday.
“Every member of Congress should closely listen to both Dr. Ford's and Dr. Kavanaugh's testimony today,” she said. “What's very clear is that a non-partisan FBI investigation should have occurred to help determine the facts and bring greater clarity to the veracity of the allegation and the denial.”
Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who is challenging Heitkamp in the upcoming election and announced his support of Kavanaugh before the claims became public, again expressed skepticism about Ford's allegations but said both she and Kavanaugh deserved to be heard.
If you live in North Dakota, tell Heitkamp to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination. Click here to contact Heitkamp’s campaign.