Kerrey and Fischer

Bob Kerrey, right, and Deb Fischer debate.

Republican Deb Fischer is picking up steam in the cash department. For the first time in the campaign, Fischer outraised Democrat Bob Kerrey in a three-month period.

In fact, Fischer enjoyed the best fundraising quarter of her entire campaign this summer, hauling in $2.4 million over a three-month period that ended Sept. 30, according to financial reports released Sunday by her campaign.

In contrast, Kerrey raised nearly $1.7 million.

Overall, both candidates have raised nearly the same amount of money throughout their campaigns, with Kerrey enjoying a slight financial edge. Fischer has raised a total of $4.1 million, while Kerrey has raised a total of $4.5 million.

Federal financial reports are due today for the third quarter, but both campaigns released summary reports of their financial records Sunday.

Aaron Trost, Fischer's campaign manager, said the numbers showed that Fischer was gaining momentum, as more and more people learned about her candidacy.

“People are responding to the strong message of Senator Fischer,” said Trost.

The Kerrey camp noted that they had still outraised Fischer in total, despite a late start in the campaign.

Kerrey entered the race in March, while Fischer filed in the summer of 2011.

“Fundraising throughout this campaign has been solid, showing we have the resources in place for a successful campaign,” said Paul Johnson, Kerrey's campaign manager.

One sign of Fischer's financial strength may be a bottom-line number in the reports. Fischer has a much larger war chest as the campaign enter the homestretch.

Election Day is three weeks from Tuesday.

She ended the quarter with about $1.3 million in the bank; Kerrey had about $800,000.

Kerrey, Fischer differ on debt reduction path

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska U.S. Senate hopefuls Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer have sharply different ideas on how to reduce the soaring national debt.

Kerrey, a Democrat, supports a combination of sharp federal spending cuts and some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.

Fischer, a Republican, rules out tax increases but says she wants deep spending cuts combined with a tax structure that would grow the economy, which she believes is a way to provide additional revenue without raising taxes. She also supports a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget each year, according to the Lincoln Journal Star reports ( ).

The federal debt stands at $16 trillion, including a $1.1 trillion deficit in fiscal 2012.

Kerrey said the specific balanced-budget amendment that Fischer supports would have devastating consequences for the economy and vital federal programs, and the wiser course is congressional action that balances the budget and reduces the debt in a systematic and programmed way.

Their debate is a window into the role that each wants to play in Washington.

Kerrey says he's determined to cross party lines and seek a balanced and bipartisan agreement. Fischer says she's prepared to work across party lines to craft a plan that combines spending cuts with tax reform.

"But I'm not open to raising taxes," she said during an interview in Lincoln last week. Asked if that position was ironclad, Fischer said: "That's an ironclad no."

Kerrey argues that Fischer's position, coupled with her signature on anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist's solicited pledge from congressional candidates that they never would vote to raise taxes, eliminates her as a vote for bipartisan debt reduction.

Her record in the Nebraska Legislature demonstrates she would be a player in the Senate, Fischer contends.

"I know there have to be bipartisan agreements," she said. "I'm flexible, I'm realistic, I'm not naive. I worked with my colleagues in the Legislature, and we got things accomplished.

"My opponent seems to think if you don't agree to raise taxes, you're not bipartisan."

In answer to a question in the Lincoln Journal Star's Voters Guide, Fischer said she favors repeal of the health care reform law and supports a 15 percent reduction in the size of the federal civilian work force as two major sources of spending cuts.

Kerrey's Voters Guide response pointed to his proposal for $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, and he noted he already has endorsed some Republican proposals to reduce future costs of Social Security and Medicare.

Although both Senate candidates support tax reform, it is Fischer who ties it directly to debt reduction through assumptions of growth in the economy. Kerrey says he believes "tax simplification can spur economic growth." He also says he would support increased taxes on millionaires.

"We should not be raising taxes on any Americans during a period of economic struggle characterized by high unemployment," Fischer said.

Fischer's argument for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget is based on the premise that it is the only way to achieve lasting fiscal discipline.

"There is no discipline in Congress," she said. "You cannot keep asking for more money. The people have said enough spending, enough debt, enough taxes. People are fed up."

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