Heitkamp is running for Senate in a red-leaning state, and to win she'll have to make the case that she's not beholden to Obama on some of the issues that matter most to North Dakotans. Those include the Keystone pipeline — which, if it were built, would bring jobs to North Dakota, but Obama has blocked its construction — and cap-and-trade regulation, which could impose higher costs on energy plants in the state.
The most recent independent poll, conducted in early June, gave Heitkamp a 1-percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Rep. Rick Berg. It's one state that Democrats believe they can win to help them retain their majority, but it's also one Obama is barely contesting, having lost it to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.
He still fares poorly in the state, with the last independent poll putting Mitt Romney ahead of Obama by 13 percentage points, and so Heitkamp will have to work to combat the perception that she's in the pockets of the national Democratic Party, and Obama in particular.
Spots like these will help her to do so. She's largely avoided attacking Berg in her ads, choosing instead to air bio spots or issue-based ads like these, prompting a top official with the state Republican Party to praise her ads as "much better" than those of Berg.