GOP Senate candidate wishes Trump 'would have been more forceful'
North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who is running for Senate in a state that Donald Trump won by more than 30 points, sharply criticized the President for his comments earlier this week appearing to back Russian President Vladimir Putin over the United States Intelligence Community.
"President Trump is harder to defend than he is to explain sometimes," Cramer told CNN. "I wish he would have been more forceful," concluding "what concerned me more was that he seemed to describe the two countries' intelligence as somehow morally equivalent in his, you know, as he's assessing it."
Cramer is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in 2018. Heitkamp has voted with Republicans numerous times -- something that she's touted as part of her reelection effort.
But Heitkamp also criticized Trump's comments in Helsinki, Finland.
"Today was a sad and unprecedented day in history -- an American president stood with Russia over our own country," Heitkamp said in a statement. "Any president's priority should be defending the United States, standing up for our military and law enforcement, and remaining united against any attempts to undermine our interests -- especially when meeting with an adversary like Russia. Today, that did not happen."
Trump has weighed in on the key Senate race several times.
After the President came to North Dakota to campaign with Cramer, Heitkamp said in a statement, "Anytime the president comes to North Dakota, that's a good thing for our state. While we saw election-year politics today, I'm always willing to work with the president if he's helping North Dakota -- and if he's not, I'll speak up."
In a recent campaign video, Heitkamp marketed herself as voting "over half the time with President Trump."
Trump invited Heitkamp to the signing of a banking deregulation bill in May as well as trips on Air Force One. She's among the Democrats being pressured to back Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.