Mr. Cramer is open about his capability to offend, and other Republicans are matter-of-fact about it. “Sometimes he says stupid stuff,” said Ed Schafer, the former governor of North Dakota. (Before Mr. Schafer offered that assessment, and unbeknown to him, Mr. Cramer slighted the former governor: “I know this state better than her, John Hoeven, Jack Dalrymple, and every former governor added up,” referring to Ms. Heitkamp and two former Republican governors.)
Ms. Heitkamp faced considerable pressure from voters in her state, which President Trump carried by 36 points, to support the Kavanaugh confirmation. She backed Justice Neil M. Gorsuch last year, but Ms. Heitkamp said Dr. Blasey’s charges and Justice Kavanaugh’s conduct made it impossible for her to support him.
Ms. Heitkamp has won plaudits from the left, as well as an infusion of small-dollar contributions, for her “no” vote. And she sat for an interview that aired on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
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But the nomination clash was plainly a wrenching episode for her. When a little girl handed her some crayon-drawn pictures of sunshine after she marched in the parade in Rutland, Ms. Heitkamp thanked her effusively and taught her how to sing “You Are My Sunshine.”
“Did you know I needed a little sunshine in my life, is that what you knew?” the senator, kneeling down, asked the girl. “And I did, didn’t I?”
Mr. Cramer’s comment clearly affected Ms. Heitkamp. When she spied a reporter in line at the Scandinavian food buffet, she demanded: “Did he really say that?”
On Sunday night, addressing a couple hundred supporters at a bratwurst-and-beer fund-raiser in Wyndmere, N.D., Ms. Heitkamp acknowledged “it has been a tough week for me.”