Trump brands Sen. Heitkamp 'liberal Democrat,' but she's not

Mike McFeely

Mike McFeely

Trump called instead for the election of Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, one of his staunchest allies in Congress.

The president was met with open arms in a state where he had previously won the presidential election by a whopping 36 points.

Well, that's now settled.

"We got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses, apartments, we got nicer boats, we're smarter than they are ... we're the elite!" he said.

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The president has not voiced his top contenders to replace Kennedy since the retirement announcement, but in November the White House released a list of 25 possible names in the case of a vacancy.

He says, "We have to pick a great one" who will serve for 40 or 45 years. In a statement, Heitkamp said she and Trump "had a solid discussion about the Supreme Court vacancy", adding that she "stressed the importance of nominating someone to the Supreme Court who is pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice, and above politics - traits that match Justice Kennedy and which I know are important to North Dakotans". "It means the nominee must meet with senators, have a hearing and receive a thorough review of their record - just as we did with Justice Gorsuch, who I supported - which is critical for someone who could take a seat on the highest court in our land". Heidi Heitkamp, although she is a moderate who strays at times from Democratic positions.

Trump met with the Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, plus Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said IN a tweet. "And please keep Maxine Waters on the air as your face and your mouthpiece", a reference to comments the Democratic congresswoman made over the weekend calling for protesters to confront administration officials over their immigration policies.

He accused Heitkamp of working hand-in-hand with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi. She's largely backed the oil-rich state's corporate interests on energy and has opposed some restrictions on guns.

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"She'll be forced to vote no", Trump said.

The president, however, noted Heitkamp's votes against tax cuts he signed into law in December as well as the GOP's long-sought goal to undo the health care program enacted by President Barack Obama. Heitkamp has described having a "friendly" relationship with Trump. Also on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., easily defeated former Rep. Michael Grimm in a GOP primary and former Trump adversary Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination to be Utah's next US senator. Only, that doesn't seem to be in the works any time soon.

'Can you imagine, seriously, if I said that, or somebody else said that? Trump added that "we have to hold the House and maybe even increase it, and I think we'll be able to do it".

"We left Lake Norden [South Dakota] at noon, came here got here about 3:00 p.m.", Chandler Roberts, another supporter said. "We have every indication that he will, but as of right now I'm not aware of a specific date in time".

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