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Deb Fischer

Deb Fischer of Valentine, Republican Senate candidate and state senator. (Courtesy photo)

NORFOLK -- Republican Senate candidates lined up Wednesday night in support of stand-your-ground self-defense laws, federal spending reductions and repeal of the national health care reform law.

The four candidates participating in the debate expressed strong support for Israel and urged the United States to stand alongside its traditional ally in trying to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

There was far more agreement than disagreement, and no sudden confrontations, during the debate before about 150 in the Johnny Carson Theatre at Norfolk High School.

A question asking the candidates to identify what they admire about one another produced a variety of answers.

Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who clashed in the most recent debate at Scottsbluff, responded quite differently in assessing one another.

Bruning said Stenberg is "a family man I admire greatly." Stenberg praised Bruning as "a great political fundraiser."

State Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine was lauded by both men for her legislative leadership.

Pat Flynn of Schuyler won approval for his determination.

"To vote for Pat Flynn, you have to think out of the box," he acknowledged.

All four candidates rejected renewal of legislative earmarks to help fund state or local projects.

But Stenberg said Bruning once attempted to acquire an earmark from Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

Fischer challenged Bruning for accepting campaign contributions from industries that benefit from his actions as attorney general.

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At one point, Stenberg asked Bruning if he would support the Republican nominee in a general election battle with former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey if Bruning is not that nominee.

"Of course," the attorney general replied.

Fischer said crop insurance should be the major program in the new farm bill that will be fashioned by Congress.

Bruning said his record as attorney general shows he has fought consistently against "the grab for power" by the federal government.

Stenberg said he would go to Washington for the purpose of "changing government, not fitting right in."

The debate was sponsored by the Norfolk Daily News and Norfolk High School.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

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