The Nebraska Radio Network says it asked Kerrey if he believed Fischer was a welfare rancher, and he said, “I think that’s a little bit of a stretch, I would say, but I’m not a carpetbagger either.”
“I’m certainly willing to say to her, ‘If you’re willing to say I’m not a carpetbagger, I’m willing to say you’re not a welfare rancher,’” Kerrey told the interviewer. “Because there is no question she’s getting subsidies.”
The Fischer camp says that’s evidence that Kerrey’s “welfare rancher” attack has backfired. Fischer spokesman Daniel Keylin said it was Kerrey who first called Fischer a welfare rancher while speaking at the state Democratic convention because her family grazes cattle on federal land at cut rates.
Fischer’s family leases about 12,000 acres of federal land near Valentine at a rate that is about $100,000 less than what it would cost on private land.
“Bob Kerrey knows that Nebraskans are overwhelmingly rejecting his blatantly false and offensive attacks on Deb Fischer and her family,” Keylin said in a press release. “Now that Bob Kerrey’s smear campaign has backfired, he can’t backtrack fast enough.”
Kerrey has been called a carpetbagger by Republicans because although he’s a Nebraska native, he lived and worked in New York City for the past decade before returning to Nebraska to run for the U.S. Senate. Kerrey still owns businesses in the state.
Kerrey spokesman Chris Triebsch said Kerrey was “trying to lower the volume of the outside groups.”
“Deb Fischer has enjoyed the benefits of millions of dollars of taxpayer benefits from the federal government. That is not a smear; that is a fact. She is the one embarrassed by the truth.”
However, Keylin noted that while Kerrey and his staffers have repeatedly called Fischer a welfare rancher, Fischer has not called Kerrey a carpetbagger. Other Republicans and super PACs have, however.