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Port: Heitkamp cozies up to the man her Democratic base views as the American Hitler

columnist Rob Port

To hear many Democrats tell it, including some high-profile progressive activists and left wing commentators right here in North Dakota, President Donald J. Trump is a fascist.

He's a white supremacist. A bigot. An evil totalitarian. Something akin to an Adolf Hitler/David Duke love child.

We've seen the President characterized that way by our left wing friends on social media. On the state's talk radio shows. In the regional newspapers.

This week, though, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp cozied up to this bête noire of the American left. Trump courted Heitkamp during his trip to North Dakota. She flew to the state from Washington, D.C., on Air Force One, right alongside evil incarnate.

The Great Satan from the White House praised her during his speech in Mandan, calling Heitkamp a "good woman."

He jabbed at her a bit too, but even that gibe from Trump came with an uncharacteristically light touch.

During a portion of his speech where he referenced President Ronald Reagan's tax reforms, he noted those policies were passed by a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and were supported by a majority of Democrats in the Senate.

"Including a Democratic senator from the great state of North Dakota," Trump said. Then, looking stage left at Heitkamp, he said, "Did you hear that Heidi?" As the crowd laughed, Trump said, "I'm not putting her on the spot."

It was, overall, a light-hearted moment amid a day of political romance between the President and North Dakota's junior senator.

Most political observers are trying to discern what it all means. Does Trump have a strategy? Is he helping or hurting Heitkamp's chances in the 2018 cycle where her odds of reelection are a coin flip?

Valid questions, to be sure, but I'm marveling at the disconnect between the anti-Trump rhetoric from North Dakota progressives and their willingness to accept Sen. Heitkamp's chummy relationship with a man they consider to be the damn devil.

One left wing reader on Twitter told me it was just Heitkamp being politically pragmatic. Which makes sense, I guess, except it's hard to accept pragmatism as an explanation for playing nice with someone most of Heitkamp's left wing political base views as a tangerine-tinted Mussolini.

North Dakota's liberals can't have it both ways. They can't carry on as though President Trump were leading a new movement of American fascists and then shrug their collective shoulders when Heidi Heitkamp, for oh-so- pragmatic political reasons, plays nice with him.

Or, they can I guess, but then perhaps we needn't take them so seriously the next time they start ranting about Trump.

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