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James Kerian, Grafton, N.D., Published August 18 2012

Heitkamp’s snake oil won’t sell

Heidi Heitkamp has praised President Barack Obama’s health care takeover as “a budget saver.” She has praised his plan for what she calls “revenue enhancements,” which the rest of us would call tax hikes. Heitkamp has supported Obama’s decision to force all employers, including religious institutions, to provide their employees with free coverage for abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations. Heitkamp gave a good introduction to her own political philosophy at the 2008 Democratic convention when she said, “I think Barack Obama is going to be amazing.”

Of course, the quotes above are from Heitkamp when she has been surrounded by loyal Democrats, liberal lobbyists and celebrity donors. These positions have enabled her to raise a lot of money from prominent liberals such as Barbra Streisand, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Occupy Wall Street leader John Podesta and Aimee Boone from Planned Parenthood of Texas.

While campaigning in North Dakota, Heitkamp has attempted to present an entirely different face. She has claimed that Obama “got pushed by environmentalists” and “bowed down” on the Keystone Pipeline project. She has recently announced opposition to the individual mandate in Obamacare.

Mark Jendrysik, a political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, has described Heitkamp’s campaign as “running away from Obama as fast as she can.”

This is a political game that North Dakotans have seen before. It’s not new for a North Dakota Democrat to be a liberal outside of the state but try to appear conservative while campaigning back home.

The problem for Heitkamp is that this is 2012. News travels fast these days, and it is a lot harder to bamboozle voters than it used to be. North Dakotans are looking for a senator who will share their values both during the campaign and while in office. It’s unlikely they will buy the snake oil that Heitkamp is selling.