Do You Believe in Miracles? or Rocket Man – Part II from Politico’s Latest Kerrey Resurrection Story

November 1, 2012



This sort of intraparty friction is not new for the GOP, especially with the rise of the tea party forces since 2010. But more often the focus is directed inside: a beleaguered Mike Castle in Delaware or Dick Lugar in Indiana.

What’s different in Nebraska is that Republican moderates are speaking up for a Democrat, even as billionaires like Joe Ricketts and the Koch brothers have spent heavily to level him.

American Crossroads and Karl Rove pummeled Kerrey well before he got into the race last spring. Alarmed by Fischer’s shrinking lead, Crossroads is back this week with a tough, well-financed TV spot attacking Kerrey on health care reform and spending issues. An initial $420,000 investment has already jumped to close to $950,000.

Yet contrast this attack with comments from Republican Danforth, who co-chaired with Kerrey a bipartisan entitlement reform commission in the 1990’s.

“I have a very high regard for Bob. I like him a lot,” Danforth said in an interview. “He is literally a hero — he has the Medal of Honor — but I think the way he handled the entitlement commission, he was a hero again.”

Kassebaum, who represented Kansas in the Senate for 18 years and is retired to Tennessee with her husband, former Senate Republican Leader Howard Baker, is not about to jump across party lines with an endorsement. But without hesitation, she praised Kerrey as someone able to restore more working relationships to a broken Senate.

“Bob is someone you can work with across the aisle,” Kassebaum said in an interview. “He understands the Senate with all its idiosyncrasies, and he understands the importance of having people in the Senate with that understanding.”

Hagel’s own Vietnam infantry record and years in the Senate with Kerrey fostered a genuine friendship. But Fischer has also been a Hagel supporter in the past, and he has provided some counsel to the state senator as she tries to learn the ropes on foreign policy issues.

He ducked POLITICO inquiries Wednesday morning and again after the Omaha World Herald broke the news of his endorsement in the evening. But Kerrey confirmed the endorsement was coming, and a news conference was scheduled Thursday afternoon in Omaha.

“I am not sure what changed things,” Kerrey told POLITICO. “He and I spoke and then he decided. … This is a special and moving moment for me. To have someone I admire so much risk so much to do what he believes is right is a memorable act regardless of who wins next Tuesday.”





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