Sen. Heidi Heitkamp on Tuesday dismissed Hillary Clinton's comments to CNN that Democrats "cannot be civil" with Republicans who want "to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."
"That's ridiculous," the North Dakota Democrat told CNN's Anderson Cooper on "Anderson Cooper 360." "I mean I can't imagine how you get anything done if you don't bring civility back into politics, and that goes for both sides."
"I hope that we can find common ground in this country that sexual assault is more prominent than people thought it was," she said.
Like all other Senate Democrats except Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is also locked in a tight re-election battle in a state that President Donald Trump won in 2016, Heitkamp voted against confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations.
While Heitkamp stands by her decision, her opposition to Kavanaugh may not help her re-election bid in North Dakota. Recent polls show Heitkamp down by double digits to her Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer.
Cramer hit Heitkamp for her opposition to Kavanaugh and dismissed the #MeToo movement at large in a The New York Times interview Monday.
"They cannot understand this movement toward victimization," he said of the women in his family. "They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough."
Heitkamp dismissed Cramer's remarks Tuesday as "a horrible message."
"I don't understand what he meant," she said. "Did he mean that if you're a victim of sexual assault you shouldn't talk about it? You shouldn't disclose it? You shouldn't report it? Which I think would be a horrible message. But it's the other message, that if you're a strong woman you aren't ever going to be victimized, because that's the wrong message too -- has nothing to do with the strength of who we are."
Heitkamp later told CNN that her mother, who died in April, had been sexually assaulted and "to suggest she's not strong because she's a victim was like a trigger for me. I just said she made us strong because she said don't ever let this happen, fight for your rights, don't ... this was a life-changing experience for her and she made us stronger because of it."
Despite the long odds of her re-election, Heitkamp reiterated that she had made the right call in opposing Kavanaugh.
"I knew the easy political vote would've been a 'yes' vote. But I also know that my parents raised me to do the right thing as I see it and experience the consequences of that," she said. "Whether it's re-election or not getting re-elected -- that to me wasn't the point."
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