Today kicks off Big Iron the largest farm show in the upper-Midwest. For three days in West Fargo people involved with agriculture gather to talk about all things farm and ranch related. In the midterm election, agriculture has been propelled to the front of our political debate due to policy decisions in Washington. That is the reason the Red River Farm Network (RRFN) invited Kevin Cramer and Heidi Heitkamp to debate in front of North Dakota farmers. Heidi Heitkamp accepted the invitation. Kevin Cramer declined. Instead, Cramer was in Texas at a fundraiser for his campaign.
Cramer’s snub of today’s debate is the latest in a growing list. According to people familiar with the debate requests, Cramer has declined one of the two debates with AARP and Prairie Public. He said “no” to a KFGO debate on statewide radio, and turned down a debate on Fox News. He has also rejected another farm-based debate with the Chamber of Commerce Ag Forum in conjunction with ND Soybean Council. It turns out, he has rejected more debates than he has accepted.
Instead of speaking with farmers and taking their questions, Cramer is in Texas for a high-dollar fundraiser hosted by Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn. The invite can be found below. The dollar asks ranges from $50,000 to $1,000. It is the second such event for Cramer in Texas this week according to reports.
Meanwhile, Heitkamp attended the scheduled forum, talked with attendees, and answered the questions they had. Unsurprisingly, the topics on farmers’ minds were about the farm bill, the $12 billion aide, and trade disputes. Three topics Cramer has a relatively weak position, specifically when it comes to trade where he has backed the President’s actions and the farm bill where he is limited in what he can do because he chose not to be on the House Agriculture Committee.
As someone who boasts about accessibility and eagerness to answer tough questions, Cramer sure seems to be dodging opportunities to challenge his opponent head-to-head. What is he afraid of? Why is it that he has turned down at least two farm-focused debates when it is one of the most pressing issues facing our state? He has claimed he doesn’t want to participate in issue-specific debates. It is safe to say he doesn’t want to debate those specific issues. It appears raising money for more political advertising is given higher priority to Cramer’s campaign than hearing from constituents and giving them a display of his level of understanding about the issues important to them.