Heidi Heitkamp’s Opponent: Maybe Sexual Abuse Victims Just Aren’t “Tough”

Screengrab / University of Mary / YouTubeRep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

Rep. Kevin Cramer believes the MeToo movement is leading women "toward victimization".

Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota sparked outrage last month when he said Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be disqualifying, because “nothing evidently happened”.

On Sunday, one day after Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court, Cramer continued his insensitive line of thought by saying the MeToo movement is leading women “toward victimization”.

During an interview with The New York Times, Cramer said North Dakotans appreciate the value “of saying what a lot of other people don’t dare say — but think,” and asked for an example, the Republican hoping to unseat Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp turned to the MeToo movement:

> “That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,” Mr. Cramer said, alluding to Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers — and, more broadly, women who have come forward to claim that they were sexually abused or assaulted.

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> Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, Mr. Cramer said: “They 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.”

Heitkamp was incensed by Cramer's comments:

> “The better part of my career in public life has been working with victims,” said Ms. Heitkamp, a former state attorney general. “Did you ask him how many victims during this process he actually sat down with, and survivors he sat down with, and visited with personally?”

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> Then Ms. Heitkamp’s voice grew thick with emotion.

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> “I think it’s wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it’s wonderful his mom hasn’t,” she said. “My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn’t make her less strong.”

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> With tears welling in her eyes, Ms. Heitkamp stared intently at a reporter and continued: “And I want you to put this in there, it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong. And to suggest that this movement doesn’t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate.”

In September, as Kavanaugh’s fate hung in the balance after several accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced, Cramer dismissed the incident described by Ford, in which she alleged the judge held her down and put his hand over her mouth to silence her screams.

The Republican candidate was unsure such an incident should be disqualifying:

> Cramer raised the question in a television interview on KX4, a North Dakota station. He also explained that when he said in a radio interview last week that “nothing evidently happened” between Kavanaugh and Ford, he meant that “there was no type of intercourse or anything like that.”

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> In the interview with host Chris Berg televised Monday, Cramer said that if something like what California professor Christine Blasey Ford alleges about Kavanaugh is accurate, “it’s tragic, it’s unfortunate, it’s terrible.” But, he added of Kavanaugh, “even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him? It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court?”

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