Fischer and Kerrey supporters rally behind candidates in Nebraska U.S. Senate debate

Kerrey supporters campaign outside the U.S. Senate debate between Republican Deb Fischer and Democrat Bob Kerrey in Omaha on Friday.

Story and photos by Emily Younger, NewsNetNebraska

Republican Deb Fischer and Democrat Bob Kerrey debated issue after issue in Omaha Friday.  The two candidates discussed the economy, abortion, Obamacare and much more in the battle to represent Nebraska in the U.S. Senate.

While a statewide TV and radio audience listened in, the second debate may not have been held on neutral territory. Some might say it was on Kerrey’s turf.  Why?  Outside the Omaha Community Playhouse, where the debate took place, Kerrey supporters lined the streets with signs and cheers. Fischer’s supporters were less visible.

In terms of applause, audience’s reaction favored Kerrey, a former U.S. Senator and Nebraska Governor.  After asking several dozen audience members their response to the debate, all but two told NewNetNebraska they were Kerrey supporters.

Many audience members said they support Kerrey because he’s the experienced candidate.  Retired high school teacher and Kerrey supporter, John Votta said, “He’s a veteran, he’s been our governor, and he’s been our senator.  That’s experience enough for me.”

Two Fischer supporters were quick to add that Kerrey’s not the Nebraska governor or senator anymore.  “He’s lived in New York for the past 10 years.  He can’t represent the average Nebraskan if he doesn’t live here,” said 76-year-old Fischer supporter Betty Jo Marples.

Marples also said she’s not concerned with the low Republican turnout at the debate.  She says although there was overwhelming favoritism directed toward Kerrey, the polls say this is Fischer’s race.

Polls and momentum

An Omaha World-Herald poll on Sunday, had Kerrey trailing Fischer, a Nebraska State Senator from Valentine, by 10 percentage points.

When compared to earlier polls, some may say the results are evidence that campaign momentum is with Kerrey.  A poll the Fischer campaign released in June showed Kerrey trailing by 25 percentage points.

Some Kerrey supporters say the latest poll is proof that the lead has been cut.  Numbers aside Votta said he came to the debate to learn more about the candidates, so voting is easier come November 6th.   “I wanted to hear what their plans are and what they think.  I don’t want just general statements…I’m a how to person I want to know the how to’s.”

He says he’s looking forward to the next debate scheduled for Monday, October 1st in Lincoln hosted by NET.

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