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.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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