CONSERVATIVE GROUP: “He’s not leading on the issues where this country needs leadership right now”

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the Koch brothers, announced they cannot endorse Kevin Cramer at this time. Today’s rebuke from AFP was direct and perhaps confrontational to comments Cramer made earlier about their decision-making. Certainly Cramer’s crew will try and downplay the development, but they can’t argue they didn’t need and likely expected the backing for political advertisements.

AFP said the reason they can’t support Cramer is issue related. “He’s inconsistent across the board on these issues and that makes it hard to support him,” Phillips is quoted as saying. Those issues included spending and trade. There is no question Cramer has been all over the board on tariffs and the trade war. His waffling on the subject has been noted before.

His latest rationale is a bit more head-scratching, however. Cramer is now blaming political opposition for stalled negotiations. “What they [China] have is I think greater flexibility as leadership, because they’re totalitarian. Now we don’t want to be totalitarian. Our president has to deal not only with opposition from the Chinese emperor, but he has to deal with opposition from his own political — supposedly friends — not just Democrats, I’m talking about Republicans as well.” He told Valley News Live. It wasn’t a one-off comment, he previously told Bloomberg, “One thing about more socialist countries, and when you’re talking about China in particular, they don’t suffer from the same type of political opposition within their ranks that our political officials do.” He appears to think the barrier is checks and balances.

Cramer’s argument is either grasping at straws to defend President Trump’s tariff use, or he’s negating the authority of Congress. Neither are befitting of the office he seeks. It doesn’t seem to cross his mind that the President may be wrong at times and those decisions can be damaging to the pocketbooks of North Dakotans. In this instance, it has already led to $12 billion more in federal spending.

He’s not leading on the issues where this country needs leadership right now, issues like spending … or trade. – Tim Phillips, President of AFP

What appears to be a more direct shot at Cramer came from AFP’s CEO Emily Seidel. She is quoted as saying, “We’re raising the bar.” when it comes to candidate endorsements. Recall in June, AFP ran an ad thanking Heitkamp for her work on the banking bill. Cramer was critical of the bill – though he attended the bill signing ceremony – and AFP for running their ad. He told CNBC “Low bars are easy to step over,” and that AFP “should aim higher.” As they say, be careful what you wish for.

Today’s public chiding of Cramer can’t be welcome news to his campaign. They’ll spin it as not being a big deal, but the bottom line is they need as many of these outside groups spending money in North Dakota against Heitkamp as possible. She has the cash-on-hand advantage in the race. Instead, AFP told people that Cramer isn’t a leader on issues the country needs leadership in right now.

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