U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey got fired up when asked by the debate moderator today whether he could relate to rural Nebraskans after being in New York City the past dozen years – noting that state Sen. Deb Fischer had just said the No. 1 issue facing rural Nebraska is getting young people to return home.
He said he can think of many reasons for people to vote against him, but not the carpetbagger allegation, which he said is a “phony issue.”
“Why is it an issue when people leave and come back?” he said. “It’s a dangerous thing.”
Fischer refused to engage on that issue, saying the debate should focus on issues. Asked whether that meant she was acknowledging Kerrey is a Nebraskan, she said, “I will say that Sen. Kerrey is the Democratic candidate from Nebraska for the U.S. Senate.”
The issue clearly rattled Kerrey, who replied, “It makes me sad to hear that. Don’t do this in this campaign. I’m a Nebraskan. Don’t do this to our state.”
Perhaps the most interesting question was when Kerrey asked Fischer whether there’s anything he’s done in the past 11 years that would qualify him to represent Nebraskans in the Senate. Fischer turned the tables on him, putting the same question to him. Kerrey said everything she’s done qualifies her.
“I don’t look at you and say, ‘Geez, you’re not qualified to be in the Senate,’ ” Kerrey said.
Fischer thanked Kerrey for his service as Nebraska governor and a two-term U.S. senator, but said, “I believe we need to look to the future. I don’t think we can keep sending the same type of guy back there.”
Kerrey said he’s been in and out of politics for the past 30 years, but he’s not a career politician – prompting some howls from skeptics.
“I’m genuinely worried about the future of our country,” he said.