The Only One Talking About Heidi Heitkamp’s Breast Cancer Is Heidi Heitkamp
One of the central stratagems, it seems, of liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign is to play the victim card. Heitkamp’s campaign has tried to portray Republican opponent Rick Berg as supporting “attacks on women.” National Republican figures such as Karl Rove have been portrayed, when they’ve criticized her, as “attacking” Heitkamp (with her own words, no less).
And then there’s this breast cancer thing. Nobody had breathed a word about Heitkamp’s past and (thankfully) successful battle against breast cancer until the candidate herself brought it up in an ad, using it as a shield against criticism over Obamacare. Heitkamp’s relatives have written fundraising missives on her behalf mentioning the breast cancer as a reason why critics shouldn’t be “attacking” her.
Now in a Washington Post profile of North Dakota’s Senate race the Heitkamp campaign, again, plays the breast cancer card blaming her 2000 gubernatorial campaign loss to John Hoeven on the breast cancer and alleged media distortions of it:
Heitkamp was twice elected attorney general and was running a competitive campaign for governor against now-Sen. John Hoeven (R) in 2000 when she learned she had breast cancer.
She announced the discovery at a tear-filled news conference but decided not to drop out of the race, continuing to campaign as she underwent surgery and began chemotherapy. State newspapers printed outdated statistics that showed there was a nearly 1-in-2 chance she would not live into a second term if elected, and she lost to Hoeven, now the state’s most popular politician, by more than 11 percentage points.
Twelve years later, Heitkamp is cancer-free — and many voters here still remember the fight.
Heitkamp lost her 2000 campaign by nearly 30,000 votes, or 10% of the vote. It’s hard to attribute that solid margin to Heitkamp’s breast cancer issue alone, and those who observed the campaign when it happened point out that Heitkamp was slipping in the polls before the breast cancer issue.
But that part of North Dakota’s political history has been hashed over plenty already, and I don’t care to re-litigate it here.
The fact of the matter now is that Heitkamp is cancer-free now (thankfully), and the only people talking about her past struggle against cancer is her own campaign and her surrogates. And, shamefully, they’re doing it while trying to suggest that some out there are attacking her over the breast cancer when no actual attacks exist.
Rick Berg hasn’t mentioned Heitkamp’s breast cancer. None of the groups who have engaged on this race have brought it up (except those supporting Heitkamp). The breast cancer issue is only an issue for Heitkamp, and only because she wants to fabricate a narrative about victimhood.
Do we want to elect someone who would win by playing the victim to distract from the less savory aspects of her campaign like her support for Obamacare, her support for President Obama and her problem with the sort of quid pro quo cronyism that has landed Senator Kent Conrad in hot water?
Heitkamp is talking about breast cancer because there aren’t a lot of actual policies and issues she can talk about, honestly, and still expect to be elected.Tags: election 2012, Heidi Heitkamp, John Hoeven, North Dakota News, Rick Berg