UNITED STATES - AUGUST 17: Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is interviewed at Boneshaker Coffee in Bismarck, N.D., on August 17, 2018. Cramer is running against...
Tom Williams

GOP Senate hopeful sees #MeToo as a ‘movement toward victimization’

Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican Senate candidate in North Dakota who’s ahead in the polls, boasted to the New York Times yesterday that folks in his state appreciate candor. Asked for an example, the GOP congressman shared some thoughts on the #MeToo movement.

“That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,” Mr. Cramer said, alluding to Christine Blasey Ford – who has accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers – and, more broadly, women who have come forward to claim that they were sexually abused or assaulted.

Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, Mr. Cramer said: “They cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough.”

It’s quite a message for a candidate in 2018: as far as Cramer is concerned, women who’ve been targeted by men engaging in sexual misconduct just aren’t as “tough” as his relatives.

To hear the Republican congressman tell it, women speaking out against this societal scourge should just stop complaining. He has no use for a “movement toward victimization.”

This Senate campaign is telling voters a great deal about who Kevin Cramer really is, and the emerging portrait isn’t at all flattering.

The Times asked his opponent, incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), for her reaction to Cramer’s comments. The senator’s response is worth your time:

“The better part of my career in public life has been working with victims,” said Ms. Heitkamp, a former state attorney general. “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 Ms. Heitkamp’s voice grew thick with emotion.

“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. And it didn’t make her less strong.”

With tears welling in her eyes, Ms. Heitkamp stared intently at a reporter and continued: “And I want you to put this in there, it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong. And to suggest that this movement doesn’t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate.”

This isn’t the first time in recent days that Cramer has insulted women. As regular readers may recall, trying to defend Brett Kavanaugh against the sexual assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford two weeks ago, the GOP congressman dismissed the professor’s claim as “absurd,” adding, “[I]t was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”

Given the nature of the controversy, that wasn’t much of an answer, though Cramer managed to make matters worse. The Republican explained to the NBC affiliate in Fargo yesterday that he meant that “there was no type of intercourse or anything like that.”

Not surprisingly, that didn’t help clarify matters, since intercourse isn’t a necessary component of a sexual assault.

A few days later, Cramer added that even if Kavanaugh did what he was accused of doing, he believed the judge should be confirmed anyway.

It’s also worth pausing to appreciate Cramer’s rhetorical history, which includes making derogatory comments about Democratic women’s attire and an unfortunate defense of Alabama’s Roy Moore.

In April 2017, CNN quoted a Senate GOP campaign veteran who said at the time, “On paper, it looks like he could win, but he also appears to have a few Akin-like tendencies that make a lot of people nervous.”

A year and a half later, perhaps those concerns were well grounded?