Abortion Issue Backfires On Heidi Heitkamp


Over the last couple of weeks, liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp’s national liberal friends have been making hay out of a bill her Republican opponent Rick Berg’s support for a bill, as a state legislature, that would have declared the personhood of an unborn child.

BuzzFeed reported the story under the sub-headline, “Todd Akin II?” Liberal websites from the Huffington Post to Think Progress also picked the story up. But here in North Dakota, it was a non-story.

Why? From the way the Heitkamp campaign answered when asked about the issue by the Grand Forks Herald, it’s clear they didn’t want it to be a story.

FARGO — In the barrage of barbs between U.S. Senate candidates Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp, one issue has been conspicuously absent, given how outsiders have highlighted Berg’s 2007 vote for a bill that would have criminalized abortion and made it punishable by life in prison, regardless of circumstances such as rape or incest.

Salon.com, BuzzFeed and a number of other websites reported on Berg’s vote in the dust-up over the “legitimate rape” comment made last month by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who also is running for Senate.

But Heitkamp, a Democrat, has remained mum on the vote by her Republican opponent, a first-term congressman who voted for the bill as a state lawmaker.

When asked why via e-mail, a campaign spokesman responded that Berg’s voting record in the Legislature is a matter of public record, “and that vote has been covered pretty extensively.”

Oh my.

If we ever needed an illustration of just how far to the left of the North Dakota electorate Heitkamp’s base of national liberal support is, this is it. This is why Heidi Heitkamp skipped her party’s national convention. This is why she said, in an interview, that the Democrat party platform doesn’t represent her.

This is why Heitkamp tells everyone she’s an independent, and not a Democrat. This is why Heitkamp, far from campaigning on President Obama’s platform, she’s been telling voters she’ll “stand up to” her party’s top-of-the-ticket candidate.

Heitkamp simply can’t get elected in North Dakota while campaigning on what both she and her party stands for. By the way, when Heitkamp is asked directly about her position on Obama, she skirts a direct answer:

Heitkamp said in a statement that her position on the issue has remained the same.

“The bottom line is that we should not be putting politicians between women and their doctors when making these very personal family decisions,” she is quoted in the statement as saying. “I do not support public funding of abortions, and believe that late term abortions should be illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

Because she can’t just say “I’m pro-choice” or “I’m pro-abortion.” That would be an entirely too honest characterization of her position.

Rob Port

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.

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