Arizona Senator John McCain urged Nebraskans today to vote for Republican Senate candidate Deb Fischer to end Washington gridlock, while Democrats contend Bob Kerrey isbetter equipped to do the job.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, supported Fischer at a rally attended by about 150 people at an echoey airport hanger in Omaha.
Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News
Sen. John McCain speaks for Deb Fischer as Sen. Mike Johanns and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy look on.
The Arizona senator said Fischer could provide the vote Republicans need to replace Democrat Harry Reid as majority leader and pass a budget resolution, something McCain says Reid has refused to bring to the floor. And McCain said there was another reason to support Fischer as well. “A lot of people are going to be watching this race around the country my friends. Whether we have the 50th or 51st vote in the United States Senate will to a large degree depend on the state of Nebraska,” he said. “And I’ll tell you something else, and maybe a lot of people think that I shouldn’t say this, but it is a reality because I need to give you straight talk. We need this kind of conservative woman senator in the United State Senate for the good of our Republican Party.”
For her part, Fischer reflected on her chances after starting off as a little-known candidate. She defeated two better-known opponents, Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg, in the Republican primary. “People didn’t give us much of a chance but I knew that if you had great grassroots support and if you stayed on a positive message, you’d win an election. And we will,” she declared.
Recent polls have been all over the map, with an Omaha World Herald survey last week showing Fischer ahead by 3 percent, while her campaign was maintaining she had a 16 point lead. McCain wasn’t promoting overconfidence. “This will be a close race. We accept that. But I’m confident of victory and I’m confident that we can change the United States Senate and change America with Deb Fischer,” he said.
In a later interview after an appearance in Lincoln, retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson disputed McCain’s criticism of Reid, saying the Republican minority had effectively obstructed the majority’s ability to pass legislation. Nelson specifically objected to McCain’s characterization of the budget situation.
“These are partisan talking points that confuse people because I now have to say, ‘Well, we had a Budget Control Act vs. a budget resolution,” and most people are puzzled saying, ‘I don’t want to know all that stuff,’” Nelson said. “But the truth of the matter is we’ve had a budget, no matter what the other side says, for over a year – it just hasn’t been a budget resolution.”
The Budget Control Act Nelson referred to set up the so-called Super Committee which failed to agree on a plan to cut the deficit, and will trigger automatic spending cuts unless Congress acts by the end of the year.
Nelson also downplayed the significance of McCain’s appearance for Fischer, contrasting it with Kerrey’s endorsement by Republicans. “It isn’t news that Sen. McCain comes to Nebraska to support a Republican. There’s hardly any news associated with that, unlike in the case of Chuck Hagel coming to support Bob Kerrey or Alan Simpson supporting Bob Kerrey,” he said.
Kerrey, Hagel, and McCain are all Vietnam War veterans. McCain said that gives them a special relationship, but doesn’t determine whom he supports.