WASHINGTON — State Sen. Deb Fischer made the rounds this week in the nation's capital, meeting with various groups, dropping in on a weekly breakfast for visiting Nebraskans and, like any ambitious candidate, raising money for her campaign.
Fischer stopped by the Nebraska Breakfast, a weekly gathering of the congressional delegation and Cornhuskers who are in town for vacations, conferences or lobbying missions.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., welcomed Fischer during his remarks at the event. “You're just enjoying the sights in Washington,” he quipped.
Well, not exactly. The Republican nominee for one of Nebraska's U.S. Senate seats said in an interview that she was “meeting people with different organizations” and getting “the lay of the land.”
She also held a series of fundraisers. A Tuesday breakfast was hosted by Johanns and various political action committees, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Nebraska's three House members were featured at an event that evening.
Fischer, who has boasted of how more than 90 percent of her primary campaign funds came from within Nebraska, said raising money in Washington is necessary in a general election campaign that will attract national attention.
“It's the reality of campaigns now and what they cost,” she said.
Out-of-state fundraising events prompted barbs to fly both ways in the race.
The Democratic nominee, former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, criticized Fischer for declining an invitation to debate at Tuesday night's Cornhusker Boys and Girls State in Lincoln. Kerrey noted that he delivered a speech before 800 people at the event in lieu of the debate.
Kerrey campaign manager Paul Johnson had said in a statement that, for Fischer, “the lure of campaign dollars from the party bosses, lobbyists and billionaire benefactors in D.C. was just too great” and kept her from the debate.
Of course, Kerrey has raised money himself in Washington and New York with his own party bosses, lobbyists and billionaire supporters.
Kerrey said he's still waiting on Fischer to respond to his proposal for seven debates.
“We'll debate,” Fischer told The World-Herald. “In Nebraska, summertime is a time for retail politics, campaigning, county fairs, parades. I look forward to that.”
Republicans recently took their own shot at Kerrey for a “posh fundraiser” he held in San Francisco last week with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and others.
Chris Triebsch, Kerrey's press secretary, said the criticism of Kerrey was simply the GOP trying to distract from Fischer's decision to skip Tuesday night's debate.
One of Kerrey's Washington fundraisers this spring brought out a young man with a video camera. The footage of Democratic senators arriving at the affair later turned up online.
Likewise, two other young men appeared with video cameras this week to record Fischer's arrival at one of her fundraisers.
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