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Bob Kerrey's son Henry urged his father's teary-eyed supporters Tuesday night not to be too despondent over losing Nebraska's U.S. Senate race.
“When you're playing a video game . . . you have at least three lives,” he quipped, producing laughter among the crowd.
Still, the direction of Kerrey's next life remains unclear. After delivering his concession speech, Kerrey moved through the crowd in the La Vista Conference Center ballroom, doling out handshakes and consoling hugs.
“Stay in Nebraska,” one woman urged him. “We need you.”
The Democrat assured her and reporters that he has no plans to leave after losing to Republican state Sen. Deb Fischer.
He pointed out that he still has businesses in the state, many relatives and now a house.
But he also remained vague about any potential opportunities, both political and economic, that are available.
“I'm not leaving Nebraska,” said Kerrey, 69. “But ... I'm making no decisions about exactly what my next economic opportunity is. I know I'm not going to retire.”
Under existing agreements with the New School in New York, Kerrey has the option of returning there to teach. But he also has raised the possibility of teaching at the University of Nebraska.
Pressed by reporters on his plans, Kerrey repeatedly said he simply doesn't know and that at least for one night, he wasn't going to worry about it.
“I'm going to go home with my family and probably have a tequila and think about life — something other than politics,” Kerrey said.
In his concession speech, Kerrey urged supporters to be proud of their efforts.
He told them they fought the good fight against dysfunctional partisanship, earned the support of Republican leaders such as former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and refused to duck the tough issues.
Kerrey said that included standing up for gay rights and a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, telling the truth about the federal budget crisis and defending the new health care law.
“We told Nebraskans that climate change is real and that it's caused by our own habits,” he said.
While those arguments did not produce a victory, he told them they were worth making.
Retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said he was disappointed in the outcome but that Kerrey “moved the needle” by running a good race.
“He pushed senator Deb Fischer from the tea party support that she had, where she couldn't think of one Democrat she could work with in the United States Senate, to promising to be bipartisan if she's elected,” Nelson said. “Now the proof's in the pudding. Can she deliver on her promise?”
For his part, Kerrey said he would move past the loss.
“It's not the end of the world, and it's certainly not the end of the fight for the causes that brought us all together,” Kerrey said.
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BOB KERREY'S CONCESSION SPEECH