On the brink of defeat, Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign isn’t holding back from attacking anyone they want, including a WWII veteran who requested that Heitkamp stop using his image without his consent.
Facing backlash, Heitkamp’s Communications Director called that story “wrong and gutter politics at its worst.”
LET’S BE CLEAR: In this campaign, “gutter politics at its worst” is only embodied by Heidi Heitkamp, whose campaign has exploited veterans, sexual assault survivors, and whoever else she can for political gain.
Heitkamp Staffer Accuses WWII Veteran of “Gutter Politics”
Yesterday I wrote a post about Lynn Aas, a WWII veteran who received the Legion of Honor award from France last year, who objected to Senator Heidi Heitkamp bragging about her attendance at that event on her Facebook page.
“Lynn is not happy that Heidi did this. We have posted a comment requesting that it be taken down,” David Aas, Lynn’s son, told me in an email. “Lynn wants to make it clear that no one from the Heitkamp campaign contacted him to ask for permission for this, and he does not want this to be viewed as an endorsement of her campaign.”
I reached out to Heitkamp’s staff for comment yesterday, but as is typical for them they didn’t respond to me. They did respond to Fox News, however, when the news network picked up my story. Their statement characterized Aas’ objection to the use of his image by the Senator as “gutter politics.”
“This story is wrong and is gutter politics at its worst. A link to a local news article was posted on Sen. Heitkamp’s Senate Facebook page about a ceremony she participated in last year for a WWII veteran to highlight a recognition he earned. An individual photo was not posted. The way social media works is that if you post a link to an article, the photo in the article also shows up in the post. Let’s talk about facts rather than distortions or political games. We took the post of the article down after the veteran’s son asked us to via Facebook,” said Abbie McDonough, Heitkamp’s U.S. Senate communications director.
“In fact, at the event, Mr. Aas joked with Sen. Heitkamp that he liked her, but isn’t going to vote for her. They both shared a laugh, and she retold the story at the event. In North Dakota, you can still recognize the service of an honorable man from a different political party without playing politics. Sen. Heitkamp will continue to work to make sure all veterans have the support, resources, and recognition they deserve and earned – despite others playing politics with our nation’s veterans,” she added.
I’m gobsmacked that Senator Heitkamp’s staff would attack Mr. Aas like this. The objection to the use of his image, and his story, in Heitkamp’s post came from him. I didn’t solicit it. I wasn’t even aware of his objection until his family alerted me to it.
And it wasn’t just that Heitkamp (or, more accurately, her staff) posted a link to a local news story which auto-populated with Aas’ image. It’s that they used Aas’ story, and his name, as well as his image in the heat of a campaign and at a moment when Heitkamp has been touring the state touting her record on veterans’ issues.
Aas didn’t want to be a part of that messaging. He should get to say that without being attacked by Heitkamp’s staff.
There’s a pro-abortion, pro-Obamacare, anti-gun, red-state Democrat who lost touch with her state campaigning in North Dakota today, and it’s not just Heidi Heitkamp.
Heidi Heitkamp is out with a new ad attacking Kevin Cramer on pre-existing conditions, something her campaign called “a winning issue for us.”
LET’S BE CLEAR: Unlike Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign, Kevin Cramer doesn’t care about whether something is “a winning issue” politically. He cares about what will actually help the people of North Dakota, and that is not Obamacare.
Obamacare has created higher premiums and fewer choices for North Dakotans while shifting the burden of cost onto small businesses and farmers. While both candidates support protecting pre-existing conditions, only Heidi Heitkamp supports a law that hurts her state.
“This is the same ineffective line of attack Heitkamp has been launching for months. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now,” said North Dakota Republican Party Communications Director Jake Wilkins. “Lying about Cramer’s health care plan will work about as well as outing victims of sexual assault without their consent.”
STATEMENTS: North Dakota Veterans and Sen. Ben Sasse (NE) Criticize Chuck Hagel, Offer Strong Support for Cramer
Ret. General Mike Haugen:
Heidi Heitkamp has a well-deserved deficit in the polls after she outed victims of sexual assault without their consent, continued to campaign rather than apologize, then lied about it.
Now to save what for weeks has been the most vulnerable Senate campaign in the country, Heitkamp is continuing her apparent requirement that all surrogates be irrelevant Trump-bashing politicians, bringing former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to North Dakota:
LET’S BE CLEAR— Chuck Hagel has an anti-Israel, pro-Iran record, and was Defense Secretary as ISIS surged to power in the Middle East. Pro-Israel groups have been campaigning against Heitkamp this cycle, and today she is reminding them why.
“While Kevin Cramer gains support from North Dakota veterans, Heidi Heitkamp is campaigning with a man who let them down,” said North Dakota Republican Party Communications Director Jake Wilkins. “Hagel was dismissed from from this last position for doing a poor job, an experience he and Heitkamp will have in common after this November.”
Facing fierce backlash for outing victims of sexual assault without their consent, Heidi Heitkamp was asked by Anchor Chris Berg why she did not suspend her campaign to figure out exactly what happened and to prioritize personally apologizing to the victims of her actions.
Inexplicably, Heitkamp claims, “I pretty much did” in the interview:
LET’S BE CLEAR— Heidi Heitkamp absolutely did not suspend her campaign, not on the day reports surfaced or any day following.
Heitkamp was filmed by Showtime’s The Circus campaigning the day it was reported her campaign outed these victims without their consent:
The following day, her campaign launched a tone deaf attack ad focusing on women’s issues and issued press releases criticizing her opponent:
Two days later, as one of the victims of Heitkamp’s actions said she had not heard from the Senator, Heitkamp continued her attacks against Kevin Cramer and participated in their first debate:
“Nearly one week after Heidi Heitkamp outed victims of sexual assault without their consent, she is still not being truthful,” said North Dakota Republican Party Communications Director Jake Wilkins. “Many victims said this horrible tragedy ruined their lives, yet Heidi Heitkamp is dead set on continuing to lie to them and to the people of North Dakota.”
North Dakota’s largest paper endorsed Kevin Cramer today, citing his accessibility and political views that align with North Dakota.
- His [Cramer’s] conservative views are in sync with North Dakota voters, who appreciate his candor, and we support him in his bid to move from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate.
- Cramer doesn’t flinch when advocating policies he favors, or in speaking against policies he opposes. He is not one of those politicians who keep a moistened finger in the wind. He’s always been one of North Dakota’s most accessible politicians.
- Heidi Heitkamp, who now holds the office, is a likable and able politician, but her views don’t align as well with those of North Dakota voters.
- We’re worried that, if elected to what appears to be her last term, she would vote with her fellow Democrats to block or unravel progress that has been made. Specifically, we cite her vote against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
- We’re also troubled that Heitkamp has said she didn’t approve the ad that named — in some cases erroneously — women as sexual abuse victims.
- We’re left wondering if she was more interested in making political points than advancing women’s rights.
- So far the only action we’ve seen from Heitkamp and her campaign is the firing of a staffer whose identity they’re not releasing to the public. Which means this unnamed staffer is being afforded more protection for his or her identity than the victims of Heitkamp’s ad were.
- Now that this firing has happened Heitkamp and her staff are back on the campaign trail with renewed attacks on her opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, as if they’re hoping the news cycle will turn over and this ugly episode will be behind them. That’s not owning this, senator.
- We must also know the name of the staffer who was let go, so we can understand what that person’s role was in the campaign and whether or not their dismissal was a genuine accountability move or a scapegoating.
- It’s hard to imagine this ad was organized and approved by just one member of Heitkamp’s staff. Did some intern or volunteer take a figurative bullet for a higher-profile member of the campaign? Again, we don’t know.
- Heitkamp also had to find a way to use the hour-long debate to recoup her losses from earlier this week, when news broke that her campaign had identified a number of constituents as victims of sexual assault without their consent. The names of these women were included as signatories of an open letter to Cramer, which the Heitkamp campaign ran as an advertisement.
- “The ad is about non-consent. Why would they just go ahead and take our names without our consent? It’s the same thing, just different case,” one of the women told National Review this week.
- Given how much negative coverage her campaign has received for the misstep, using her opening statement to apologize was the right tactical move — not to mention the right thing to do. But it undoubtedly was not how the flailing Democratic incumbent — running for reelection in a state that the sitting Republican president won by nearly 36 points — had hoped to start out the last debate of the election cycle against a popular, at-large congressman.
- The Heitkamp campaign is under fire again, this time for an advertisement apologizing to the women named in the previous ad. According to reports, the ad may have lacked the legally required disclaimer about having been paid for by a political-action committee. The newspaper that ran the ad says it received the payment from the Heitkamp campaign committee — which means the ad appears to be in violation of FEC guidelines. Heitkamp’s campaign has not responded to press inquiries on the subject.
North Dakota Republican Party Communications Director Jake Wilkins issued this statement the following another successful debate performance from Kelly Armstrong:
As Heidi Heitkamp deals with fierce backlash for outing victims of sexual assault without their consent in a political attack ad, she has promised her victims a personal apology and a retraction.
Is that what this is?
Buried at the bottom of a page in the Minot Daily News– with no indication of who paid for it- appeared this small note from Senator Heitkamp, which only quoted her campaign’s initial statement word for word:
REMINDER: Heitkamp’s first newspaper attack ad that outed these victims covered a full page ad and ran in every major newspaper across the state. Worse yet, Heitkamp still used this opportunity to criticize Kevin Cramer, proving once again that Heitkamp exploits whoever she can, whenever she can, for political gain.
And as for apologizing, Heidi Heitkamp and her campaign returned to politics as usual yesterday, continuing their smear campaign against her opponent. Meanwhile some victims outed by Heitkamp still had not heard from her.
As Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News last night, “Heidi Heitkamp needs to pick up the phone right now and call that young girl and apologize for getting her name in the national headlines.”