Bob Kerrey sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the web site Nebraska Watchdog, his first on-camera interview since the former Democratic senator jumped into the state’s open Senate race, in which he bluntly acknowledged that he could have a difficult fight ahead of him.
Kerrey said that both of the main Republican contenders, state Attorney General Jon Bruning and former state Attorney General Don Stenberg, were strong candidates and “capable individuals,” and that Nebraska is a Republican state: “You know, it’s not like I’m gonna get a Nobel Prize for saying that it’s likely I’m gonna start this campaign as an underdog, no matter who it is.”
Kerrey also discussed the polling.
“It influenced in that people still know me relatively well. And there’s a good number of people who view me favorably, a good number of people who view me unfavorably as well. But that’s always been the case. And you know, I don’t start off saying, gee I can win this easily. I look at this thing and say, I think it’s winnable. I don’t know how winnable, but I think I can persuade Nebraska that I should be their Senator. But, I’m not afraid of losing. So if I lose, I lose.”
Interviewer Joe Jordan asked Kerrey about his previous decision to not run, and his sudden change during this past week. It was noted that Kerrey’s wife had initially objected to a run, but is now on board
“Well my wife, she saw that I wasn’t happy, and she said to me that, you know, if this’ll make you happy, I think you should do it,” said Kerrey. “Let’s talk about what it really means. She’s never been through a campaign. And they’re hard, they’re hard on families. And she worries a lot. Henry is our only child — her only child — and she worries about the impact on him. So, she could get very defensive about stuff like this. But she thought I had to reconsider, so I did. And we managed to come to a conclusion that we think we can manage this campaign and not interfere with our family.”
Kerrey also said he has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and gotten some promises. Jordan asked Kerrey what the promises were.
“I won’t tell you,” Kerrey said, laughing briefly. “It’s still a private conversation. I’ve talked to him this morning. But I’d like very much at some point soon to identify what they are. But they were important to me. And I asked for them, and he’s agreed. So I thought, I’ve got to respect that it’s a private conversation, and we’ll talk about it in a couple weeks, I guess.”
He further explained: “Well I wouldn’t cut any deal unless it’s beneficial to Nebraska. I didn’t ask for him to buy me lunch every other week, or do anything that’s gonna be personally beneficial to me. I would only ask for things that would be beneficial to Nebraska.”
Any such assurances could likely relate to Kerrey seeking to regain some measure of seniority, from his past two terms before he retired in 2000.
Separately, the Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
In a wide-ranging conference call, Kerrey identified entitlement reform as a key issue in his campaign and confirmed he has received some assurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would position him to be an effective member of the Senate if he is elected.
Kerrey presumably sought an opportunity to leverage his prior 12 years of Senate seniority to acquire key committee assignments. Nelson holds seats on the Appropriations Committee and the Armed Services Committee.
“I have assurances,” Kerrey said. “They have work to do to get that done, but I trust them.”