North Dakota U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp showed the courage of her convictions when she announced she would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite being up for reelection in November in a red state. When her challenger, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, lambasted #MeToo as “a movement toward victimization,” Heitkamp doubled down Sunday in her support for believing survivors of sexual assault, The New York Times reports.
“That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened…” Cramer said, referring to Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who testified that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school.
The conservative politician, who is currently ahead of Heitkamp in public opinion polls, said his wife and daughters don’t identify with supporters of #MeToo.
“They cannot understand this movement toward victimization,” Cramer said. “They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough.”
But Heitkamp, who is the “most endangered Senate Democratic incumbent,” as described by the Times, fired right back at her opponent.
“The better part of my career in public life has been working with victims,” Heitkamp said at a Scandinavian festival in Rutland, N.D., on Sunday. “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?”
Then, Heitkamp got personal.
“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.”
“It did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong,” Heitkamp said. “And to suggest that this movement doesn’t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate.”
Ahead of the Senate vote on Saturday that eventually confirmed Kavanaugh, a man multiple women have accused of sexually assaulting them or at least being present when assaults occurred, Heitkamp spoke movingly about how she could not in good conscience vote for him.
“When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse,” Heitkamp said.
"Countless North Dakotans and others close to me have since reached out and told me their stories of being raped or sexually assaulted — and expressed the same anguish and fear,” Heitkamp continued. “I'm in awe of their courage too. Some of them reported their abuse at the time, but others said nothing until now. Survivors should be respected for having the strength to share what happened to them — even if a generation has since passed. They still feel the scars and suffer the trauma of abuse."