As the American Crossroads super PAC launched its largest TV attack ad campaign yet against Bob Kerrey, skirmishing in Nebraska's Senate race also found Deb Fischer on the receiving end.

The super PAC identified with Republican operative Karl Rove portrayed Kerrey, the Democratic nominee, as "a liberal (with) a left-leaning agenda" in a $278,000 statewide ad buy.

Meanwhile, Kerrey called on Fischer, the Republican Senate nominee, to support Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson's proposal to eliminate subsidies for federal land grazing. Fischer and her husband, Bruce, hold grazing rights for hundreds of cattle on national forest land in Cherry County.

The Kerrey campaign also scolded Fischer for declining an invitation from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce to participate in a Senate debate at their big annual federal legislative summit at Mahoney State Park in August.

"Business leaders should not be given the cold shoulder," Kerrey said.

The Fischer campaign said the Aug. 16 event would not fit into her schedule.

However, Fischer campaign manager Aaron Trost said he told the Omaha chamber  he'd be "open to discussing, some time down the line," a possible debate.

Fischer and Kerrey have agreed to debate Aug. 25 at the State Fair in Grand Island.

"I find it very interesting that Bob Kerrey's campaign is so desperate and struggling in the polls that they are trying to start a debate about debates," Trost said. "We look forward to debating Bob Kerrey on the issues."

Fischer "supports reducing taxes, passing a balanced budget amendment and repealing Obamacare," Trost said. "Bob Kerrey supports raising taxes, opposes a balanced budget amendment and embraces Obamacare." 

The American Crossroads ad hammers Kerrey for what it described as his "out-of-touch positions on a balanced budget amendment, Obamacare and a national energy tax."

Nelson this week introduced an amendment to the 2012 farm bill requiring fees for grazing private livestock on public rangeland within the national forest system be set at a rate comparable to private grazing land rates within the region. That would result in deficit reduction totaling $1.2 billion over the next decade, Nelson said.

Kerrey said he would vote for such a proposal as a member of the Senate.

"I believe the free market should set the prices for grazing on federal land," he said. "At a time of huge debts and deficits, we can no longer afford these subsidies."

And, Kerrey said, "giving generous subsidies to a small number of ranchers isn't fair to the vast majority of ranchers who don't have this grazing privilege."

Asked during a telephone conference call from Washington on Thursday whether his proposal was directed at Fischer, Nelson said the amendment was "not aimed at any individual."

However, he said, "if the shoe fits, wear it."

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or


Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

Load comments