- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2018

North Dakota’s Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp called Thursday on her GOP challenger to condemn a recent ad put out by a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The ad begins with Ms. Heitkamp in a 2013 television interview, where she said the Russians should be trusted to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the table. It then jumps to images of Syrians needing medical treatment after the recent chemical attack.

The ad closes with the text: “Heidi Heitkamp: Not just wrong, but dead wrong.”

Ms. Heitkamp said Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican, vowed to stick to the issues during their race over her Senate seat.

Now, her campaign wants him to “condemn this disgusting, misleading ad and demand that it be taken down.”

“Kevin Cramer and Mitch McConnell have stooped to a new, shameful low – using dying Syrian children as pawns in a political attack ad. This is disgusting and not how we do things in North Dakota,” said Julia Krieger, Ms. Heitkamp’s communications director.

Ms. Heitkamp was one of the few Democrats in 2013 to reject President Obama’s push for military force in Syria following President Assad’s first chemical weapons attack.

Mr. Cramer’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Cramer’s campaign said that while the ad’s approach is “inappropriate” and “distasteful,” the point the ad makes is valid.

“From supporting Hillary Clinton and [Barack] Obama for president to her decisions on Syria, Iran and illegal immigration, Sen. Heitkamp has consistently shown poor judgment in matters of international and national importance,” said Tim Rasmussen, the communications director for Mr. Cramer’s campaign.

He also said the Cramer campaign has always focused on important issues, but it’s Ms. Heitkamp’s party that has not.

“Contrast the importance of the Syrian issue to the recent focus of Sen. Heitkamp’s allies, which sent out a press release yesterday condemning Rep. Cramer for changing his Facebook profile, and you will clearly see who is focused on issues of consequence,” said Mr. Rasmussen.

He was referring to an allegation Wednesday from North Dakota’s Democratic Party that Mr. Cramer was browsing Facebook during his committee hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, instead of focusing on privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the super PAC allied with Mr. McConnell ignored Ms. Heitkamp’s call to take down the ad.

“What is disgusting is that Heidi Heitkamp is suddenly trying to run away from her record of ‘trusting the Russians to come to the table’ to stop the Syrians from using chemical weapons,” said Chris Pack, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund.

“She said it. Russians failed. There was another attack.  Children died. It is horrible. And that is something Senator Heitkamp has to live with,” Mr. Pack added.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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