Few sparks fly during the final debate between the top three Republican candidates for United States Senate before the May 15th primary, with one exception.
Issues dominated the debate sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald, except when Treasurer Don Stenberg, responding to a panelist’s question, listed weaknesses Democrat Bob Kerrey might exploit against Attorney General Jon Bruning during the general election, charges Bruning claimed were typical of a Stenberg campaign.
“There’s a reason that Don has lost three times. Nebraska, you’ve had a chance to pass judgment on Don Stenberg in previous elections. This is why. This kind of mud throwing doesn’t work,” Bruning responded.
Stenberg countered by noting that he had simply given a direct answer to a direct question and added that it’s not mud-slinging to compare records.
“That’s what campaigns are all about. That’s not mud-slinging, that’s a political debate. That’s the facts that the voters need so that they can make the best decision in choosing the Republican nominee for the United States Senate,” according to Stenberg.
Stenberg had claimed the Democrats would raise the same questions he has raised during the campaign, questions about how Bruning amassed his personal wealth and whether he provided favorable treatment to friends while in office.
As for State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, she dismissed suggestions that her inexperience could be exploited during a general election campaign. Fischer insisted her record would serve her well in a general election campaign against Bob Kerrey.
“I think I offer that stark contrast. I believe that I have a good, strong record and it will be very difficult for him to attack me,” Fischer stated.
The debate held on the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus lasted for an hour. It featured questions from a panel of three reporters, who not only asked their own questions but related questions from readers of the newspaper. The questions ranged from the role of government in job creation to immigration to health care.
Just prior to the debate broadcast live on NET TV, President Obama addressed the nation after signing an agreement with Afghanistan leaders for an end to the United States’ involvement in the war there. That became an issue in the debate.
Stenberg said it’s time for America to withdraw from Afghanistan.
“But my view is that we are very near having achieved all that is going to be possible to achieve in Afghanistan and that we should look forward to an orderly withdrawal at the earliest possible time, subject to military considerations and our military advisers,” Stenberg stated.
Bruning said there will come an end to the war there.
“We have done a lot of good in Afghanistan. It has been a worthwhile endeavor, but it needs to draw to a close and it will in short order,” according to Bruning.
Fischer expressed concerns about the financial commitments the president has made to Afghanistan.
“What I’m concerned about is that we follow through, that we make sure there’s accountability for that money and it is being spent the way it should be spent,” Fischer stated.
To watch video of Omaha World-Herald debate click here.