McFeely: Maybe N.D. Republicans not so wise to crawl in bed with Trump
President Donald Trump characterized white supremacists as "very fine people," urged people in Alabama to vote for a credibly accused pedophile and continues to see the list of women accusing him of creepy behavior grow. Three strikes and you're out, the old saying goes, and judging by Alabamians reaction to a strong Trumpian endorsement, the president whiffed.
A white nationalist platform is all fun and games until you start losing elections and Trump is now oh-fer in his last three tries at influencing voters for his chosen candidates, the latest being U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Trump and the Republican National Committee own Moore's endorsement now, having gone all-in on the decision to sell their souls for the sake of keeping a friendly vote in the Senate. They also own Trump's kit-gloved treatment of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va.
We may have seen some residual effect here in North Dakota, where recently a local white supremacist named Pete Tefft wrote a letter to the editor to The Forum in which he pledged support for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell "because like President Trump he is running on a pro-white platform."
North Dakota Republicans were fired up the newspaper ran the letter at all, but what they don't seem to believe is that if you crawl into bed with a person like Trump, slime like Tefft is going to snuggle up to you. That's not to say Campbell shares beliefs with Tefft. But since the Grafton banker-farmer has attached himself to the president's hip it's tough to tell where Trump's sympathies end and Campbell's begin.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, another North Dakota Republican who would suture himself to Trump if given the opportunity, also has issues. While Cramer sort of let it be known he was sort of not totally OK with Moore's behavior, he never strongly repudiated it when offered the chance in a Fargo TV interview. Cramer downplayed Moore's alleged sexual pursuit of teenagers as being "40 years past." He said Moore couldn't be compared to more recent accusations against Democrats because "you're talking about a different standard."
When asked about sexual harassment allegations made by more than a dozen women against the president, Cramer said voters had already decided that issue by electing Trump.
"Let the past be the past," Cramer said, clearly indicating he won't be seeking the endorsement of the #MeToo movement.
Campbell has declared his intention to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2018 and Cramer is said to be considering a run against her. There was a time when licking Trump's shoes seemed like a sure way to defeat her in deep-red North Dakota.
But now? Polls say Trump's popularity has dipped in the state and the longer he stays in office the more baggage he picks up. After supporting white supremacists and an accused pedophile, one can only guess which group of lowlifes Trump will play footsie with next and how it might affect the candidates he endorses.
That includes those in North Dakota.
Readers can reach Forum columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5379