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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 5:02 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 5:17 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113876

Reported Deaths: 3238
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7850176
DeSoto685779
Harrison505083
Jackson445084
Rankin388186
Madison377993
Lee350779
Forrest299578
Jones287784
Washington255199
Lafayette245943
Lauderdale2418134
Lamar221238
Bolivar200177
Oktibbeha199354
Neshoba1831111
Lowndes176362
Panola169038
Leflore165187
Sunflower159749
Warren153655
Monroe147372
Pontotoc145819
Marshall139227
Lincoln138557
Pike137756
Copiah136236
Coahoma124736
Scott124729
Grenada121138
Yazoo120733
Simpson120449
Union116525
Tate114939
Leake114340
Holmes114160
Pearl River112259
Itawamba112125
Adams106743
Prentiss103719
Wayne99821
Alcorn98112
George97718
Covington95326
Marion93542
Tippah88121
Newton85227
Chickasaw83626
Tallahatchie83025
Winston82821
Tishomingo80041
Hancock79827
Attala78926
Clarke73450
Clay68321
Jasper67717
Walthall63627
Calhoun61912
Noxubee59617
Smith58916
Montgomery53523
Claiborne53316
Tunica52817
Yalobusha51914
Lawrence50714
Perry48623
Carroll47612
Greene46918
Stone46214
Humphreys42616
Amite42113
Quitman4196
Jefferson Davis40011
Webster37013
Wilkinson33520
Benton3255
Kemper32015
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27410
Franklin2373
Choctaw2046
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22861374
Mobile14468314
Tuscaloosa10148139
Montgomery9875196
Madison915094
Shelby720462
Lee649665
Baldwin647569
Marshall433049
Calhoun418960
Etowah418749
Morgan403635
Houston369232
DeKalb330229
Elmore314852
St. Clair287142
Limestone276530
Walker272293
Talladega261035
Cullman235724
Lauderdale214841
Jackson210015
Autauga202330
Franklin202131
Colbert196731
Russell19233
Blount189325
Dallas186227
Chilton184132
Escambia171929
Coffee171710
Covington169929
Dale165451
Chambers133643
Pike132313
Tallapoosa130587
Clarke130017
Marion106229
Butler100140
Barbour9979
Marengo99222
Winston91313
Geneva8527
Pickens82417
Lawrence82131
Randolph81216
Bibb81114
Hale74930
Clay72912
Cherokee72614
Lowndes70328
Monroe64010
Henry6396
Bullock63717
Washington63412
Crenshaw60230
Perry5836
Wilcox56212
Fayette56113
Conecuh55713
Cleburne5438
Macon52920
Sumter47021
Lamar4665
Choctaw38812
Greene34216
Coosa2023
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