Kerrey, Fischer trade jabs as election draws near
October 26th, 2012
Omaha, NE- In back-to-back press conferences Thursday afternoon, former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey and State Senator Deb Fischer brought endorsements for their campaigns along with jabs for their opponents.
In a push to rally support from Nebraska’s independent voters, former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, brought on Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman to bolster Kerrey’s non-partisan appeal. Lieberman is a former Democrat who switched to independent in 2006.
Both Kerrey and Lieberman spoke at a press conference Thursday touting Kerrey’s independence from party lines.
“I haven’t been involved really campaigning anywhere else this year, ” Sen. Lieberman said. “I just decided since I’m not running myself, I’m going to stay out of partisan politics.”
“But Bob’s a unique case,” he said. “I know him really well, and I came out here because I think the country needs Bob Kerrey back in the Senate.”
Lieberman said Kerrey has a willingness to “work across the aisle” and could tell Congress to “cut it out” with the gridlock. That’s a message the Kerrey campaign has been trying to drive home to voters throughout the campaign.
But while Lieberman said he knows Kerrey well, Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns says he also knows Kerrey well, and takes issue with his campaign methods.
“I’ve known Bob a long time,” Sen. Johanns told reporters at a press conference endorsing Republican challenger State Sen. Deb Fischer. “This one really surprises me.”
Referring to a blitz of campaign ads criticizing Fischer, Johanns said he was surprised by the tone. “I knew it would be a hard fought campaign, that’s who he is,” Johanns said. “This is ugly, and why Bob would choose to do this is beyond me.”
The Kerrey ad push criticizes Fischer’s lawsuit against her former neighbors the Kimes in Valentine, Neb. over land ownership. The Kerrey campaign has painted it as a land grab; the Fischer campaign calls it a land dispute that needed clarification from the courts. Johanns called on Kerrey to apologize and remove the ads.
But Sen. Kerrey stood by the ads. “The story happens to be true, it was not a boundary dispute,” Kerrey said at the press conference.
“I see these ads where she saying it was a simple boundary dispute, that’s not true,” he said. “The court documents show the opposite. She tried to buy the land and then sued her neighbor to take it.” Kerrey repeated that in a letter to Sen. Johanns, which he released Friday. There, he said if an apology is due, “it would be from Senator Fischer to the Kimes or from her to you for telling you this case is different than it actually was.”
The ads may be working. According to two new polls released by the Kerrey campaign, Kerrey is gaining on Fischer’s once sizable lead. But Fischer told reporters yesterday that she’s taking the high road, and she stressed her willingness to work with those on both sides of party lines.
Fischer told reporters, “I’ve worked with my colleagues in the Legislature whether they are Republicans or Democrats…we don’t look at parties here.”
“Any person in this state that wants to come and bring good ideas to me, or seeks help from me, if I’m honored to be in the U.S. Senate, that’s the job I will work for,” she added.
And like Fischer, Kerrey reiterated his willingness to work with both parties. “I will be as bipartisan as I absolutely have to be to get our country going in the right direction,” he said.
So in the final days of the campaign, despite jabs from both sides, the candidates hope to persuade voters with promises of bipartisanship.