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Heidi Heitkamp, the North Dakota Democratic Party Heidi Heitkamp, the North Dakota Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks to delegates at the North Dakota Democratic state convention in Grand Forks, N.D., on Saturday, March 17, 2012, after accepting the convention's endorsement to run. Heitkamp is a former North Dakota tax commissioner and attorney general. (AP Photo/Shawna Noel Widdel)  

Video disappears of Dem. Senate candidate calling Obama ‘amazing’

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

It probably isn’t helpful to have video of you out there calling President Barack Obama “amazing” if running in a competitive race for the U.S. Senate in a red state this year.

So at first glance, it shouldn’t be surprising that an ally of Heidi Heitkamp — a Democrat now running for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota — worked to get a 2008 video of her saying, “I’m sure Barack Obama is going to be amazing,” removed from YouTube.

Republicans are accusing that ally — Democratic blogger and lawyer Chad Nodland  – of removing the video to spare Heitkamp of trouble in a state where Obama’s approval ratings have taken a hit.

Nodland, who created the video, happens to be North Dakota’s Democratic national committeeman.

But Nodland told The Daily Caller on Tuesday that he asked YouTube to remove the video solely because someone else uploaded his “copyrighted work… without permission.”

“If and when I catch people using any of my original material — pictures, video or otherwise — without first at least negotiating a price or asking for permission, whether they use them for their own use on YouTube or elsewhere, I will take any and all action to protect copyrighted material I own,” he said in an email.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn’t buy it.

“To quote Heidi Heitkamp, we think it’s ‘amazing’ that her and her allies think that they can hide what is a long record of support for Barack Obama and his liberal, big government agenda from voters in North Dakota,” NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh told TheDC.

“Why doesn’t Heidi want North Dakotans to find out that she thinks Obama is amazing and will be a loyal vote for him if she is sent to Washington?” Walsh added.

The GOP committee saved a copy of the video and posted it back on YouTube on the NRSC account. But Nodland on Tuesday afternoon asked YouTube to remove that video as well.

If Republicans continue to use the video, they should be ready to put up a fight: Nodland said he expects Republicans to make “a reasonable offer for my video” if they plan to use it.

“Over the next six months or so, Republicans are going to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars trying to chip away at Heidi Heitkamp’s lead in the polls,” Nodland said. “They should have a few dollars laying around to make a reasonable offer to buy the photos or video they think might help them do that.”

YouTube has an established process for protecting copyrighted material. Users who see their intellectual property used on YouTube without permission can fill out a one-page Web form to alert the company.

This isn’t the first time Heitkamp has been accused of distancing herself from liberal comments made in the past. Politico reported she was a “fervent cheerleader” for President Obama’s health care law in 2010, but recently said “it’s not a perfect law,” and there “are some serious problems with” it.

Heitkamp is running against Republican Rep. Rick Berg to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.

Update: the Heitkamp campaign says they did not ask Nodland to remove the video.

“Washington political hacks will do anything they can to distract from Rep. Berg’s votes to cut his own taxes despite being the 14th richest member of the House, and his votes to raise Medicare costs and gut farm programs and crop insurance, even as Berg comes home to North Dakota and tries to pretend he supported the programs he just voted to slash,” campaign spokesman Brandon Lorenz told TheDC.

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