United States Senate candidates staked out positions and tried to make distinctions during a 90-minute debate at the State Fair in Grand Island.
Whether the federal health care law pushed through Congress by President Barack Obama works became a point of contention between the two main candidates.
Democrat Dave Domina asserted repeal of the Affordable Care Act simply won’t happen, referring to Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s contention that to try would be a “fool’s errand.”
“We don’t want to send a new U.S. Senator to the Senate on a fool’s errand,” Domina stated. “The Affordable Care Act works for many people; 76 million Americans have more access to prevention, eight million more are insured, seven million by extended Medicare.”
Republican Ben Sasse disagreed.
Sasse, who has built his campaign largely on a promise to work for repeal of the law, insisted it doesn’t work, because it didn’t address the real problem.
“But, the primary reason we have so much un-insurance and growing un-insurance is because Washington has already tried to pick winners and losers in the past, with a tax code that is biased for large firms and against farmers and ranchers and small business people which is where most of the job creation is happening,” according to Sasse.
On the possibility of immigration reform, Sasse stated a dysfunctional Washington cannot hope to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“First of all, the primary purpose of the federal government is to secure American citizens from enemies foreign and domestic and when you don’t have a secure border, you don’t have a border that’s secure against trafficked nuclear materials,” Sasse said. “So, obviously we need to begin by actually securing the border first.”
Domina said America must embrace many of the immigrants who have made their way into the country illegally.
“I think that if someone is in the United States out of love for this country and the opportunities it presents, did not flee arrest in the country from which that person came, contributes with honor here and seeks to be an American, we should give that person an embracing love and an immediate pathway to the citizenship we cherish so much,” Domina stated.
Domina claimed he presented the best credentials to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican who is retiring from public office.
“The United States and Nebraska have a big problem. It’s time to send from Nebraska our best prepared, our most articulate, our clearest thinker, our least partisan, and our most effective voice,” Domina said.
As for Sasse, he stated he wasn’t running to become a part of Washington.
“I’m not running for office, because I need a job or because I care about being a part of any club that’s called the U.S. Senate,” Sasse stated. “I’m running for office, because I want to have a great conversation about solving our big problems and passing on the meaning of America to the next generation.”
The debate also included independents Jim Jenkins and Todd Watson as well as two independent candidates who have yet to qualify for the November ballot.
The debate was sponsored by the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Rural Radio Network.
Tyson Havranek, KHAS, contributed to this article.