Kerrey tells students bipartisanship required

By DON WALTON / LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR / June 6, 2012

“The state should revoke the licenses of establishments that are selling huge amounts of alcohol to Native Americans in the border community of Whiteclay.”

After offering deeply personal and reflective advice from his own life’s journey, Bob Kerrey told Boys State and Girls State students Tuesday night he is determined to try to find a bipartisan path to resolve the big issues that have deadlocked Congress and threaten future generations.

“Somebody has to go back there and do something about it,” the Democratic Senate nominee told 800 high schoolers from all across the state.

“I’ve crossed party lines,” Kerrey said, pointing to his bipartisan efforts to help resolve fiscal issues and achieve entitlement reform during his previous two terms in the Senate.

“You’ve got to be willing to make people of your own party angry with you,” he said.

The only practical way to achieve a solution to the unresolved big issues is to build a bipartisan plan at the beginning of the process, Kerrey said, and that’s exactly where he would begin.

The unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare is building a future that will “treat you unfairly,” Kerrey said.

Kerrey spoke briefly to the students gathered in Kimball Recital Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, then answered questions from the audience.

Along the way, Kerrey said he is glad Speaker Mike Flood and the Legislature “moved aggressively” to exercise Nebraska’s authority over the Keystone XL pipeline’s pathway through the state.

“TransCanada make a terrible mistake in routing it over the (Ogalalla) Aquifer,” he said. ”I’m not saying we should say no (to any route) just because there’s some risk,” Kerrey said, “but we should be in a position to evaluate the risk.”

Answering a number of questions on social issues, Kerrey said:

* The state should revoke the licenses of establishments that are selling huge amounts of alcohol to Native Americans in the border community of Whiteclay.

* “I believe you’re born gay or straight, and everyone should have equal civil rights.”

* “I believe women should be allowed to make that decision” when choosing whether to bear a child.

In his opening remarks, Kerrey told the students how he learned to “let somebody help you” after he lost most of one leg in combat as a Navy SEAL team officer in Vietnam.

And, he said, another lesson he learned is “don’t focus on things you can’t do.”

“Make sure you have friends,” he said, and that “you help them when it’s inconvenient.”

And, Kerrey said, he has learned during his lifetime something else they should know: “Nothing is more powerful than human kindness. It is transforming.”

Kerrey was invited to address the students after first accepting an invitation to debate Republican Senate nominee Deb Fischer at the event. Fischer declined the debate invitation, citing prior commitments.

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