Senate Candidates Fischer and Raybould Debate at Nebraska State Fair

Aug. 27, 2018, 5:05 a.m. ·

Republican Senator Deb Fischer and Democrat Lincoln City Council Member Jane Raybould debate Monday morning at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. (Photo by Bill Kelly, NET News)

Listen To This Story

Continuing a long tradition of political debate at the Nebraska State Fair, the two major party contenders for the United States Senate held their first and possibly only televised debate.

During the fast-moving hour, 15 questions in all, each candidate, Republican incumbent Deb Fischer and her Democratic party challenger, Jane Raybould, laid out their basic differences.

Recent immigration raids of farm-related businesses in north central Nebraska raised a question about methods of enforcing border law.

Raybould did not criticize the raids, shifting her answer to a need to secure the borders, limiting illegal immigration.

"We need to fix that and it starts with securing our borders and creating a pathway to legalization for those immigrants that are already in our border," Raybould said. "You know, in Nebraska our economy depends on this diverse workforce, so if we remove those hardworking immigrants, our packing plants would have to close and our crops would rot in the field."

Fischer also did not say whether she supported the raids on Nebraska farm operations, but noted her support for President Trump’s immigration initiatives.

“I have always prioritized securing our borders and I voted for a package that put 25 billion dollars towards a border wall, a fence, technology, but more border security patrol there," Fischer said.

In the shadow of another deadly shooting, the journalist moderators asked Fischer what actions the federal government should take in response to nearly-routine mass casualty murders.

“Because most of these incidents happen when someone has a mental issue or if it's a terrorist attack, first of all we've got to figure out how do we identify and then do something about it when we're worried about someone who may have a mental issue," Fischer said. "We need to have more behavioral health and mental health people to be able to look into that."

Fischer noted she had supported funding for additional security for schools, but Raybould claims that’s not enough.

“It's Washington politicians like Senator Fischer that have done nothing. When I'm elected senator, I will make sure that we implement common sense gun safety measures, like passing background checks and banning bump stocks,” Raybould said.

Asked about climate change, Raybould reaffirmed her belief climate change has human causes and human solutions. She did not promote a specific program, but said government needs to get out of the way of clean energy development.

“Nebraska has such immense potential of expanding our renewable resources like ethanol and emerging biofuels and solar and our wind," Raybould said.

At the start of her answer, Fisher first parted with some Republicans by saying she believes climate change is caused by humans, then focused on the price tag for reducing emissions and promoting alternatives.

“When we’re looking at raising electricity costs in a public power state, that affects each and every Nebraskan," Fischer said.

Perhaps the biggest surprise: between the two candidates, the name Donald Trump didn’t come up until 38 minutes into the debate. Both even avoided his name when directly asked about their support of the Mueller investigation. Both agreed there should not be a rush to judgement over impeachment.

The Senate debate between the candidates was sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald and KMTV in Omaha.