Democrat Jane Raybould accused Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of being influenced by those who finance her campaign during their debate at the State Fair.
The two met for the first time Monday morning during the debate sponsored by the Omaha World Herald and KMTV, and broadcast nationally by C-SPAN.
Raybould charged health care special interest groups have influenced Fischer by giving $120,000 to her re-election campaign.
“You know, Senator Fischer, that’s corruption plain and simple and you ought to be ashamed and you should give that money back,” Raybould stated.
Fischer countered the charge reminds her of attacks six years ago when she first ran for the United States Senate which she says Nebraskans ignored when they sent her to Washington.
“Because they wanted to send somebody to Washington who was going to fight for them, where they wouldn’t see the same old, same old. So, it’s disappointing that that’s the first thing that we’re hearing in this debate,” Fischer replied.
The one-hour debate began with health care, then ranged to several topics, including immigration, the Republican-sponsored tax reform package, and defense spending.
Fischer had an accusation of her own, criticizing Raybould for not extending family leave to the employees of her family’s business, B&R, which operates supermarkets in Nebraska. Raybould responded that the business values its employees and allows them time with their families.
Both touted border security when discussing illegal immigration. Raybould said Congress must create a pathway to legalization for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Fischer criticized Democrats for not negotiating in good faith to resolve immigration issues.
The two clashed on trade issues. Raybould claimed Fischer is too beholden to Republican Party leadership, standing by while what she describes as the Washington-made trade war has become a Washington-made trade crisis.
“We need to elect a senator who is going to fight for our Nebraska economy, rather than listening to her party leaders and party bosses,” Raybould said.
Raybould criticized Fischer for failing to support an amendment sponsored by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey which would have restricted the president’s power to impose tariffs.
Fischer claimed Raybould got it wrong and that she supported the Toomey amendment, but it never came to the floor for a vote.
“That needs to be a power that Congress is able to review,” Fischer stated. “I supported that. Members of Congress know that and there was no vote on that.”
Whether the tax reform bill pushed through Congress by Republicans has helped Nebraskans or not became a topic of debate.
Raybould contended Congress got it backward, giving big tax breaks to the wealthy and much smaller tax breaks to the Middle Class, while increasing the federal deficit.
“They gave temporary, measly tax cuts to hard working Nebraska families and our small businesses,” Raybould said. “It should have been the reverse.”
Raybould said she would only support a measure which would make Middle Class tax cuts permanent and one which would be deficit-neutral.
Fischer called the tax-cut package pro-growth and questioned Raybould’s characterization of it.
“Businesses and families realize that they are keeping more money in their pockets. And to call it measly, what people can keep in their pockets?”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]
AUDIO: United States Senate debate between Republican incumbent Deb Fischer and Democratic challenger Jane Raybould [52 minutes]