Senator may lose seat after Kavanaugh vote

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is in danger of losing her seat after voting no on confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. CNN's Dana Bash has the story.

Posted: Oct 9, 2018 6:15 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 6:17 PM

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was ready to vote 'yes' on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Having been just one of three Democratic senators to vote to confirm President Donald Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Heitkamp had already instructed her staff to begin drafting a statement explaining why she thought Kavanaugh deserved her vote as well. Then Christine Blasey Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school.

"I was concerned about these allegations but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," the North Dakota senator told CNN in an interview.

Heitkamp is in the fight of her political life, trying to hold onto her seat in this red state where President Trump won by 36 percentage points. Her calling card is crossing party lines, especially when it comes to presidential appointments. Deciding to vote no for Kavanaugh was probably riskier for her than any other Democrat.

She watched Ford's testimony. And then she watched Kavanaugh's. And then she watched Kavanaugh's again, but this time, with the sound off.

"It's something I do," she said, "We communicate not only with words, but with our body language and demeanor."

"I saw somebody who was very angry, who was very nervous, and I saw rage that a lot of people said, 'well of course you're going to see rage he's being falsely accused,' but it is at all times you're to acquit yourself with a demeanor that's becoming of the court," Heitkamp said.

With regard to his demeanor, Heitkamp said the final straw was the way Kavanaugh went after her Democratic colleague from Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, when he asked her if she had ever blacked out drunk after she had asked him the same question.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them," Heitkamp said.

It was also Heitkamp's own experience as an attorney that changed her mind. Having dealt with victims of sexual assault, she said she instinctively believed Ford.

"I certainly think I have expertise beyond a number of people within the United States Senate and that expertise is that I have sat across the desk with victims people I've believed when they told me their story, and I had to say,'I believe you but these cases can't be proved beyond a reasonable doubt so we can't proceed with the prosecution.' And when you've done that, you know for a victim, the most important thing you can say is 'I believe you' if you do, and I think it really came down to that I believed her," Heitkamp recalled.

And there was something even more personal that she never talked about publicly until Sunday, when she heard that her Republican challenger Kevin Cramer told the New York Times' Jonathan Martin, that women in his family, including his mother, "cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough."

Outraged, Heitkamp revealed that her own mother was a victim of sexual assault as a teenager. Later, she told CNN Cramer should be grateful that the women in his life were never assaulted.

"People in my life have, including my mother, and to suggest she's not strong because she's a victim was like a trigger for me. I just said she made us strong because she said don't ever let this happen, fight for your rights, don't ... this was a life-changing experience for her and she made us stronger because of it," said Heitkamp.

At an Oktoberfest event at Schmidt's Shop in Wyndmere, near where she grew up, Heitkamp was emotional in admitting it was a "tough week."

"The political rhetoric is you can't vote that way if you expect to come back. I tell people Ray and Doreen Heitkamp didn't raise me to vote a certain way so that I could win. They raised me to vote the right way," she said.

The room gave her a standing ovation. But Heitkamp is well aware that elsewhere in the state, where support for Trump is strong, the voters are hardly applauding her choice.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
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Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
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Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
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