Bob Kerrey takes campaigning to class
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 12:10
Democratic Senate Candidate Bob Kerrey took time out from his campaign to speak to to students in Professor Richard Fellman’s Intro to American National Government class on Oct. 25.
Kerrey is running against Republican candidate Deb Fischer. Fischer spoke to Fellman’s class in early September.
Kerrey spoke of his experience in Washington, D.C. and also discussed his plans for a constitutional amendment that would force Congress to operate in a non-partisan way.
The amendment would include the following things: force congress to organize in a non-partisan fashion, put 12-consecutive year term limits on legislators, and give Congress the authority to ban outside money and place limitations on what can be spent on campaigns, Kerrey said.
“Those four things taken together I think will improve the quality of the discourse in Washington and [will] increase the number of Nebraskans and others who will say it’s still a government for and by the people,” Kerrey said.
Aside from his proposed constitutional amendment, Kerrey allowed students to ask him questions on his stance on various political issues including abortion. Kerrey supports a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion and trusts her to make that decision under any circumstance.
Students also asked Kerrey about his views on gay marriage.
“[Gays] should have all civil rights as straight people,” Kerrey said. “This is a civil issue.”
Since Kerrey had served in the military, many students asked him about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The issue of Iran was brought up and Kerrey believes that sanctions are working very well. He also said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was wrong about creating a “red line” which gives Iran a certain time frame to nuclear disarmament, or else Israel will seek military action.
Despite his criticism of the red line, Kerrey sees Israel as an important ally in the Middle East and said the United States will stand behind them.
“We would move to defend them if necessary,” Kerrey said.
Given the current state of the tuition prices and worries about employment, Kerrey also discussed his views on offering more assistance, like pell grants, to students. He also stressed the importance of public institutions’ partnerships with the private sector.
“Every [university] that has done it has produced higher value added jobs for people who are graduating from college and high school alike,” Kerrey said.
Many young people also fear that even if they obtain a job after college, social programs like Social Security and Medicare will be insolvent by the time they reach eligibility.
“I’ve endorsed a bill that if that becomes law you can look at it and say that when I become eligible this is what [benefits] I’m going to get,” Kerrey said. “I hope Nebraskans who are going to vote who are under the age of 40 notice it.”
Another issue Kerrey discussed is the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
“You have to address this undocumented problem in a reasonable, practical, compromisable way where Republicans and Democrats in the center agree that current law is unacceptable. We have to change it and provide better service,” Kerrey said.
Some of the ways in which Congress can do that is by making the process of obtaining work permits and citizenship easier, Kerrey said.
Being given the opportunity to speak in Fellman’s class was informative for many students, and was also important to Kerrey’s campaign.
“It gives them [students] an opportunity to learn what is going on in the political process and hopefully that knowledge will benefit them some point down the road,” Kerrey said. “I hope they do vote and I hope they vote for me.”