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Commentary: Kevin Cramer should agree to more debates with Heidi Heitkamp

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) at the Uffda Day celebration in Rutland, N.D., Oct. 7, 2018. (Annie Flanagan/Copyright 2018 The New York Times)

For weeks now Democrats have been critical of Congressman Kevin Cramer for not agreeing to more debates with Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp.

Cramer gets a lot of credit for being one of the most accessible political leaders in North Dakota. The guy hands out his personal cell phone numbers to reporters in the state (and sometimes even lowly bloggers), and some of those reporters have spoken to me about it with a degree of amazement at their ability to text him directly for comment or to schedule interviews.

That’s not typical, and certainly it’s a contrast with Senator Heitkamp who manages access and messaging with an iron fist. There some in the media around the state, including me, that the Senator won’t talk to. In some instances, her staff won’t even talk to us.

So I understood when Cramer told me on my radio show in August, when questioned about the debate issue, that “It’s not my job to make her accessible.” He told me that the Senator is trying to “dig out from 5 1/2 years” of being inaccessible.

There’s truth in that. Heitkamp is being self-serving in demanding a whole bunch of debates this election year. It’s the sort of thing candidates who are trailing in the polls do.

But so what?

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