A top Democratic recruit for the Senate is drawing a line in the sand on the Keystone XL pipeline, separating herself from President Obama in a state where the president’s favorability is underwater.
Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota’s former attorney general and the presumed Democratic nominee to replace retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), sent a letter to Obama on Friday asking him to reverse course on the pipeline, which Obama announced Wednesday that he will block.
“The Keystone pipeline would mean billions of dollars invested in our economy when we need it most, and tens of thousands of well-paid construction jobs at a time when too many Americans are out of work,” Heitkamp wrote. “It would bring new business opportunities for small businesses that would support this huge construction project, from gravel pits to Main Street diners.”
The move by Heitkamp reflected the most palpable and clear-cut attempt by a major Democratic candidate to publicly create distance from Obama since the debate over healthcare reform.
And it’s good politics in North Dakota, a major oil-producing state where opposition to the pipeline is a hard sell for Democrats. When Gallup polled the state in August, Obama’s approval rating stood at 37 percent, among the 10 states where Obama fared the worst.