Heidi Heitkamp Still Playing The Breast Cancer Card In Senate Race

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A week ago liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp unveiled a bizarre ad in which she invoked her past battle with breast cancer as a shield against criticism of her record on Obamacare.

This week a reader forwards to me a fundraising pitch, sent out by the candidate’s sister, which again invokes breast cancer. Here’s the text of the pitch:

I’ll never forget the day twelve years ago when my sister Heidi gathered the family at our lakeside cabin, and told us all the devastating news … that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

All of us took the news very hard. In the end, it was Heidi that began comforting us, saying she wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for herself. Heidi beat cancer, and I saw firsthand her determination and tireless effort, qualities that I know she will use to do what’s best for North Dakotans.

Sending Heidi to the Senate will come down to getting her message out to voters from the oil patch in the far west to the Red River Valley in the east, and everywhere in between. They need to know the real Heidi — not the distorted image crafted by Karl Rove.

Heidi’s released a new ad that tells her story, and what she stands for. The more people who see it, the greater its impact will be.

That why I hope you’ll watch the ad now, and take a minute to share it on Facebook or forward this email to your friends and family.

Heidi loves North Dakota and the wonderful people who live here. North Dakotans were there for my sister twelve years ago, and I know she’s grateful to have us standing with her now. I hope you’ll click here to watch the new ad now.

Thanks for everything,

Holly Heitkamp

It’s ironic that the fundraising pitch mentions that North Dakotans were “there for” Heitkamp 12 years ago after she announced she had breast cancer. That was in the midst of her 2000 campaign for governor, a contest she lost.

I’m sure we’re all glad that Heitkamp beat cancer and is, by all accounts, healthy now. I know I am. While I think Heitkamp would be a terrible leader for the state and the nation, I wish her no personal misfortune.

That being said, invoking this illness as inoculation against criticism is beyond crass, especially for a candidate who fashions herself as appealing to feminists. A woman playing at victim, and casting men like Karl Rove and her opponent Rick Berg as attacking her, is hardly in keeping with feminist ideals.

But hey, whatever it takes to win, right? If there’s one thing that can be said about Heitkamp it’s that she is ruthlessly ambitious.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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