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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.

Confirmed Cases: 76522

Reported Deaths: 3086
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16194731
Lake7742281
Elkhart495586
Allen4040163
St. Joseph361083
Hamilton2887104
Vanderburgh205313
Hendricks1943108
Cass18069
Johnson1794119
Porter136239
Clark130750
Tippecanoe124511
Madison103066
LaPorte93530
Howard92065
Kosciusko87212
Floyd82249
Bartholomew82147
Marshall79423
Monroe76732
Delaware76052
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Dubois71312
Boone69746
Noble69029
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Jackson5975
Warrick58830
Shelby56828
LaGrange56610
Grant53130
Dearborn51628
Morgan48934
Clinton4504
Henry41820
Wayne38810
White37711
Montgomery36021
Lawrence35727
Harrison35224
Decatur34232
Putnam3218
Daviess27920
Miami2772
Scott27310
Jasper2572
Greene25434
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Steuben2153
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Posey1800
Starke1807
Orange17824
Wells1782
Fulton1732
Wabash1715
Jefferson1662
Knox1640
Whitley1566
Tipton14912
Washington1441
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Spencer1393
Clay1315
Huntington1273
Randolph1274
Newton12110
Adams1172
Owen1051
Jay920
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Pulaski821
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike620
Vermillion590
Parke551
Switzerland530
Martin500
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 104248

Reported Deaths: 3734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18965531
Cuyahoga13869512
Hamilton9844259
Lucas5512326
Montgomery448998
Summit3667224
Butler303364
Marion294245
Mahoning2623256
Pickaway240042
Stark1904142
Warren185039
Lorain183177
Columbiana168360
Trumbull1563110
Fairfield143232
Delaware136519
Licking134551
Clark121315
Lake114642
Wood109058
Clermont96211
Medina95936
Miami86839
Tuscarawas79714
Allen79446
Portage77664
Greene73012
Mercer64113
Belmont62726
Richland61912
Erie61028
Ashtabula57746
Geauga56144
Wayne55459
Ross5094
Madison50310
Darke41429
Huron4115
Ottawa40426
Sandusky39917
Hancock3973
Athens3612
Holmes3316
Lawrence3180
Auglaize2756
Union2731
Scioto2591
Muskingum2481
Jefferson2403
Seneca2344
Shelby2154
Knox2147
Preble2122
Putnam21217
Washington21122
Coshocton1967
Champaign1882
Morrow1792
Crawford1775
Hardin17512
Clinton1716
Highland1692
Logan1672
Ashland1553
Fulton1551
Defiance1544
Wyandot1519
Brown1502
Perry1483
Williams1373
Fayette1240
Henry1222
Hocking1229
Guernsey1197
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
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Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble170
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