MINOT, N.D.-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp wins elections by inspiring hate for her opponents.
That's what she did in 2012 when her surrogates branded her opponent Rick Berg as a "slumlord" while the national Democratic apparatus ran ads which suggested he "attacks women."
Heitkamp is attempting the same with her opponent in 2018, Congressman Kevin Cramer, and one aspect of that hate campaign is so acutely hypocritical it needs to be highlighted.
Cramer, to his credit, makes weekly appearances on a variety of radio and television shows to take questions from the hosts and, more importantly, the public at large. The congressman's segments on my radio show usually feature calls from supporters and critics alike, as well as citizens with detailed questions about policies important to their lives and livelihoods.
But it's an election year now, so the calls have also included people who seem like political operatives asking loaded questions in order to elicit a soundbite to be used to benefit Boss Heidi.
As an example, this last week when Cramer was on with me we took a call from a woman who asked him about the chain link fences being used at detention facilities at the southern border. Cramer's answer, which was perfectly reasonable and logical in context, was cherry-picked and put on the YouTube channel of the North Dakota Democratic Party from which it was then disseminated to Democratic allies in the media.
Within 90 minutes of Cramer's appearance on my show our segment was the basis for national headlines.
I'll leave it to Cramer to defend what he had to say about chain link fences, though I'm not sure it needs defending.
My purpose with this column is to point out the tactic so that you readers can marvel at the hypocrisy of it.
Cramer's willingness to make himself available weekly for open mic segments, even in the fraught environment of Senate race that's in the nation's spotlight, is being used against him by Heitkamp and her allies.
That's not the worst part, though.
The worst part is that this is happening even as Heitkamp refuses to make herself similarly available for questioning.
I continue to request an interview with the senator for my show every week. The senator and her staff still have not responded. The hosts of the other shows where Cramer appears also cannot book Heitkamp.
Which isn't to say that Heitkamp doesn't do live interviews. She does, but usually with some sycophantic host like her brother Joel Heitkamp, and usually without taking calls from the audience.
Just last week Cramer appeared on Heitkamp's radio show, an act we could call courageous if there were anything the congressman had to fear from that dim bulb. Cramer routinely appears on the shows of left-wing hosts.
Heitkamp, meanwhile, avoids any venue where she might face tough questioning from critics.
It speaks volumes doesn't it?
Heitkamp talks often of how she fights for North Dakotans, yet she sure doesn't like anything resembling a candid interaction with them.
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort