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North Dakota rep: Trump wants me to run for Senate

North Dakota rep: Trump wants me to run for Senate
© Greg Nash

In a phone call this week, President Trump personally urged Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (R-N.D.) to jump in the race against North Dakota Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE, a vulnerable Democrat whom Trump’s been courting on tax reform and other issues.

“He strongly encouraged me to run,” Cramer told The Hill in an interview Friday outside the Capitol.

“We talked about tax reform a lot. That was the first topic and the last topic,” Cramer said of the Tuesday phone call. But the congressman added: “I think he wanted to talk about the Senate race.

“I told him I won’t do anything before tax reform,” Cramer recounted. “And [Trump] said, ‘That’s a good idea.’ ”

Cramer has been discussing his phone call with Trump with local media outlets. He confirmed Friday he will vote “yes” on the GOP tax bill, which House Republicans unveiled on Thursday.

As North Dakota’s at-large House member, Cramer is the Peace Garden State’s sole representative and someone who has already proven he can win a statewide race. He won his third term in the House in 2016.

The phone call from Trump is a big boost for Cramer; Trump is enormously popular in North Dakota and beat Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Bolton tells Russians 2016 meddling had little effect | Facebook eyes major cyber firm | Saudi site gets hacked | Softbank in spotlight over Saudi money | YouTube fights EU 'meme ban' proposal Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout MORE by 36 percentage points. In December, Trump interviewed Cramer for a Cabinet post, but the congressman ultimately didn't get the job.

If he runs, Cramer would face off in the GOP primary with state Sen. Tom Campbell, who announced his bid in August.

The president’s comments to Cramer are notable given that Trump has been courting Heitkamp, hoping to pick up a Democratic vote for his sweeping plan to overhaul the U.S. tax system.

In September, Trump and Heitkamp traveled together on Air Force One to North Dakota. At an event at an oil refinery in Mandan, N.D., Trump invited Heitkamp to join him on stage.   

“Everybody’s saying, ‘What’s she doing up here?’ ” Trump told the crowd. “But I’ll tell you what: Good woman.”