Kerrey, Fischer in tight race in U.S. Senate finale

Sen. Bob Kerrey speaks with audience members at Lincoln Northeast high school on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012.

Story and photos by Anna Reed, NewsNetNebraska

With polls showing a tightening race, Democrat Bob Kerrey and Republican Deb Fischer are kicking their Nebraska U.S. Senate campaigns into full gear to get every vote possible.  Kerrey spoke Saturday in the gymnasium of his alma mater, Lincoln Northeast High School. With a crowd of about 100 people, Kerrey talked and answered audience questions about Nebraska issues and the 2012 U.S. Senate race.

Meanwhile, Deb Fischer’s campaign announced a tour that will visit towns and cities across Nebraska over the next five days.

On Saturday, Kerrey talked about his experience as a military and political leader. “Through the military, I learned the importance of personal initiative,” he said.  After being injured in combat, he had to work to build himself back up and make himself strong again.  He said the country was in kind of the same boat now.

“About 100 people told me not to run for this office because Washington had gotten so much worse after I left in 2001,” he said.  “That actually motivated me to want to come back more.”

According to the latest Omaha  World-Herald poll, Kerrey is within striking distance of Fischer. Kerrey trailed Fischer by only 3 percentage points in a statewide survey of 800 registered voters. Five weeks ago, Kerrey trailed Fischer by 10 points among registered voters, according to the World-Herald.

In Saturday’s appearance one audience member who said he was “probably the only Republican here” asked Sen. Kerrey what he was going to do to help lower the amount of red tape in caring for and providing benefits for veterans.

“I know every Democrat is going to vote for you, but you need Republicans,” Randy Meyer, of Lincoln, said.  “I know you support veterans and I want you to run on that,” he said.

Meyer spoke about disabled veteran brother who relies on intensive care from the state.  He said it was very difficult to get all the paperwork he needed and all the funding he needed to get the care he requires.

Sen. Bob Kerrey answers audience questions while he speaks at Lincoln Northeast high school on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012.

In response, Kerrey said he would work to get more jobs into offices like the VA. “A computer just can’t make the same decisions a human can in a situation that is literally life and death for a veteran or someone else who needs care.  You can’t write software for that,” he said.

The Deb Fischer campaign also supports funding for the VA. “She wants to cut spending overall, but you still have to make priorities,” Daniel Keylin, press secretary for Deb Fischer said. “Taking care of veterans and reducing bureaucracy is a top priority for Deb Fischer,” he said.

Though both candidates seem to agree on issues surrounding veteran care, there are major separations in their proposed plans.  “(Deb Fischer) wants to cut taxes for all Americans,” Keylin said of Fischer. “Kerrey says everyone will have to pay a little more.”

“It is a very important separation between myself and Fisher. She wants to balance the budget with purely tax cuts,” Kerrey said.

Sen. Bob Kerrey mingles with audience members after his spoke and answered questions at Lincoln Northeast high school on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012.

Kerrey wants to balance the budget by balancing the budget of individual efforts and departments.  He believes fixing the deficit of funding for Medicare and Social Security is one of the Nation’s top issues to deal with and solve. “We have to balance those budgets or else we are robbing from the future to pay for the past,” he said.

Despite their differences, Kerrey believes that once in office, the party lines should fall.  “You can’t have a Democratic budget or a Republican budget,” he said.  “You just won’t get anything done.”

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