Fischer, Kerrey spar on global warming, partisanship in final Senate debate -
Published Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 9:00 am / Updated at 3:50 pm
Fischer, Kerrey spar on global warming, partisanship in final Senate debate

• Click here to read excerpts from the Bob Kerrey-Deb Fischer debate.

Watch a replay of our live coverage

* * *

LINCOLN — Republican Deb Fischer wants you to know she's not a “good-ol' boy” politician.

Democrat Bob Kerrey wants you to know he's not a typical “cookie-cutter politician.”

Nebraska's two candidates for U.S. Senate faced off in their final debate of the campaign Monday, sparring over global warming and the feasibility of stripping partisanship from Congress.

Kerrey thinks global warming is man-made; Fischer doesn't.

Fischer says Kerrey's plan to create a nonpartisan Congress is unrealistic; Kerrey argues he can get it done.

It was the third debate between the two Senate candidates, and it came less then six weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

The high-stakes nature of the debate was underscored by the big-names in the NET-TV studio: Nebraska's Republican Gov. Dave Heineman and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson.

Fischer and Kerrey not only differed on the issues, but they also offered Nebraskans a clear contrast in styles: Kerrey was red-hot passion, while Fischer never lost her cool.

Kerrey was the debate's clear aggressor, repeatedly hammering Fischer for running a campaign he said was heavy on “slogans” and short on specifics.

Kerrey specifically wanted to know what programs Fischer would cut to keep her promise to balance the budget without raising taxes.

“When you cut a trillion dollars because you don't want to raise taxes on people who make over a million dollars … it will increase unemployment in Nebraska and make it impossible to keep our commitment to veterans and seniors,” said Kerrey.

Fischer never said exactly what spending she would cut, but she argued that she had cut spending as a state lawmaker, and that she could cut spending in Congress.

She also said a big part of her plan was to create jobs and grow the economy and its tax base by cutting the corporate tax rate and reducing government regulations.

“I believe we can turn this economy around. We can create jobs,” said Fischer. “It's not all about spending.”

The debate comes as a World-Herald Poll conducted late last month showed Fischer as the race's frontrunner, with a lead of about 10 percentage points among registered voters.

For the most part, the debate produced no knock-down punches. And neither candidate appeared to make a huge mistake that would change the dynamics of the race.

One of the biggest disputes of the night involved Kerrey's proposal to push for a change to the U.S. Constitution that would turn Congress into a nonpartisan political body.

Kerrey said he wants to see Congress run more like Nebraska's nonpartisan Legislature, where there are neither Republican nor Democratic caucuses.

Such a proposal would take a constitutional amendment three-fourths of the states would have to be ratify.

Fischer called that a “mighty” task and questioned how Kerrey could get it done.

“I don't see Congress changing that quickly,” said Fischer.

Kerrey responded that he would take his case to the American people.

“Well, look, just because it's difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. I believe I can persuade Americans to do it,” he said.

The two also parted company on global warming.

Kerrey criticized Fischer for saying in an earlier debate that she did not believe man-made pollution was linked to global climate change.

“I don't think you can address any problems unless you begin by saying there is a problem,” said Kerrey.

Fischer countered by criticizing Kerrey's support for a controversial program known as cap-and-trade. She argued it would place a $1,700 tax on every American.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1309,

* * *

Here's a replay of our live coverage, including tweets from Aaron Sanderford, The World-Herald's political and national issues editor, and Managing Editor David Kotok.

More from The World-Herald

Video: Deb Fischer-Bob Kerrey second debate replay

Second Kerrey-Fischer debate: Checking the math

First Nebraska Senate debate: A point-by-point fact check

Video: Deb Fischer-Bob Kerrey first debate replay's Election Guide

Contact the writer: Robynn Tysver    |   402-444-1309    |  

Robynn is's elections writer. She's covered presidential politics in Iowa's caucuses, and gubernatorial and Senate races in Nebraska.

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