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Published April 28 2012

National conservative group launches anti-Heitkamp ad

FARGO – The policy arm of an influential conservative super PAC has bought time on North Dakota’s airwaves as part of a strategic attack on Democrats in five key U.S. Senate races.

Crossroads GPS released its new ad last week, which attacks North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp about her support for President Obama and the 2010 health care reform law.

Crossroads GPS is affiliated with American Crossroads, a major political action committee founded by Karl Rove, a political strategist for former President Bush.

Crossroads is spending $1.2 million on its latest ad blitz in five states, including $76,000 in North Dakota, according to the group.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Friday it would spend about $75,000 in advertising to respond to Crossroads’ attack.

Here’s a breakdown of the Crossroads ad and the facts behind its claims.

Narrator: “Do you think Barack Obama has been ‘amazing?’ ”

Heitkamp, in 2008 video: “I think Barack Obama’s gonna be amazing, and I think we are on our way to a better United States in the next eight years.”

The video in which Heitkamp calls Obama “amazing” was taken during an interview with a North Dakota Democratic blogger at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The interview came after Hillary Clinton’s speech and prior to Obama’s address.

In her full statement, Heitkamp mentioned how Clinton was amazing on stage and she expected Obama’s speech would be, too.

Both that original video and Crossroads’ latest ad have been pulled from YouTube due to claims of copyright violations from the blogger, Bismarck resident Chad Nodland, who’s also the North Dakota Democratic-NPL’s national committeeman.

Narrator: “Heidi Heitkamp supports Obamacare, which costs over a trillion dollars and cuts $500 billion in Medicare spending.”

In 2010, after health care reform was approved by Congress, Heitkamp spoke at rallies in North Dakota praising the law.

“If we do not stand firm that this bill will change the face of health care and America’s opportunity for some of our least-advantaged, we will surely lose,” Heitkamp said then. “I want to encourage all of you to be vigilant. … You need to continue your efforts; you need to continue to believe that our citizens – the people of North Dakota – will agree with this, in majority, if we just get them the message.”

But on the two-year anniversary of the law’s enactment a month ago, Heitkamp said for the first time publicly that she’s “often said that it’s not a perfect law.”

“There are some good things in the health care law that make sense, and there are some serious problems that make no sense at all,” Heitkamp told The Forum. “There are some serious problems with the law, like the federal mandate requiring you to buy health insurance and way too much red tape for small businesses.”

Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office about the cost of health care reform have varied since the law was enacted in spring 2010.

A year ago, the nonpartisan analysis office projected health care reform would reduce the federal deficit by $210 billion by 2021.

But last month, a new CBO report said health care reform would actually cost the federal government

$1.1 trillion over the next 10 years.

As for Medicare in particular, a March 2011 report from the CBO said health care reform would reduce federal spending to the entitlement program by $492 billion by 2019.

Those cuts come in part due to changes in the Medicare’s fee-for-service policies, the report said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541