Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 18, 2014

North Dakota: New Heidi Heitkamp Spot Tackles Health Care

Just days before the Supreme Court is expected to make a highly anticipated ruling on the health care law, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) took on the controversial issue in a new television advertisement.

Heitkamp, who faces freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) this November, invokes her personal experience beating breast cancer 12 years ago in the 30-second spot.

“When you live through that, political attack ads seem silly,” she says in her straight-to-camera appeal. “I would never vote to take away a senior’s health care or limit anyone’s care. There’s good and bad in the health care law, and it needs to be fixed. But Rick Berg voted to go back to letting insurance companies deny coverage to kids or for pre-existing conditions.”

The advertisement is notable because Democratic candidates running in Republican states typically avoid discussing the health care law altogether — let alone pay for airtime promoting it. Additionally, Republicans have criticized Heitkamp for championing the legislation a couple of years ago.

But the spot also gives hints at how Democrats will discuss the controversial law during 2012 campaign in wake of the high court’s upcoming decision. A top Senate Democratic aide confirmed they expect more candidates to discuss the individual negative effects of repealing parts of the health care law — no matter how the Supreme Court rules.

The spot will run on statewide broadcast channels starting this week.

Republicans argue that Heitkamp has altered her position on the health care law, citing footage of her at a 2010 rally where she called the bill “a legacy vote.”

“Every victim of breast cancer deserves our respect and admiration, but it’s neither admirable nor respectful when you’re a politician doing anything and everything to mislead voters on your liberal record,” said Lance Trover, a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman.

Roll Call rates this contest as “Leans Republican.”

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