Starting today, some Nebraska newspapers will be running my column on the views of our Senate candidates' stands on Iraq, the rest of the war on terrorism, national security, and our military. I won't post the column here for a while, so that it hits the papers first.
For my columns I have to target about 750 words, and ended up with 820 for this one. I did the best I could to provide the ideas and quotes which best reflected the views of three candidates on the subjects in question. In some ways it didn't do justice to the views of Johanns and Raimondo, or the information they provided. The fourth, Scott Kleeb, was not yet prepared to answer the detailed questions I was asking.
If more space would have been available, I would have added many quotes and ideas from both Mike Johanns and Tony Raimondo. (I would add them here, heck, I'd publish my notes if I could, but I did not ask any of the campaigns if I could do so in this forum. To do so now, without permission, would be somewhat of a breach of trust, so I won't, unless they consent to such.)
Both Johanns and Raimondo provided quite a bit of detailed information on the subject that was thorough, well thought out, consistent with, and applicable to actually confronting the challenges in these areas. Their knowledge and positions were most likely to help achieve positive outcomes.
Johanns had the benefit of actually being able to talk with me about the subjects, which always provides a clearer picture of where one stands. He was unhesitant in his description, analysis, and solutions. There was no pausing to choose the right words, they just came. We should feel quite comfortable with Mike Johanns in this arena.
Not to be dismissed was Raimondo's answers via e-mail. They reflected a good command of the subject, especially with regard to the effect of other countries on our economy and national security. I had a little difficulty reaching the right people to ask those questions, but when I did, the answers came very quickly in reply. That tells me he's been thinking about, paying attention to, and preparing solutions, as we should expect of someone who wants to be our U.S. Senator.
Pat Flynn has the right take on the situation in Iraq, national security, the war on terrorism, and our military, and is starting to look at other threats we face. His overall understanding and philosophy were good, he just didn't have the details the other two did yet.
Had I had more space in the column, I'd have made further analysis of Scott Kleeb's inability to answer the same questions I posed to the others. I'd have also reviewed some quotes from an Omaha World Herald article from the 25th or 28th of Feb. (I'd have to go back and look that up. It's the same one he has on his website.)
His answer about Iraq is one of the better "non-answer answers" I've seen on the subject, and I know this subject. I've watched, read, and listened to politicians talk about Iraq for four years now. These issues are a daily study for me. Comparatively, his statements in that article, were ambiguous at best. They reflect someone who doesn't know the issues or is trying to mask an unpopular position on them.
I'll go with the non-sinister version, and assume he doesn't know the issues. I think we should be uneasy with someone who ran for Congress two years ago, has obviously been leaning toward running for something, but doesn't have a good enough grasp of the situation to answer questions on what he himself admits is one of the two biggest issues we face. Did he have a position back then?
He's had plenty of time to prepare both himself and the answers to tough, detailed questions on these issues. He's campaigned for national office before. He no longer gets the new guy pass. After all, he and Raimondo jumped in at the same time, but Raimondo was more than capable of demonstrating a good grasp of these subjects and was able to provide very detailed answers. Answers that represent where I believe other Nebraskans stand.
Maybe he'll come up with answers. I hope they're good ones that reflect the reality of the challenges in the world. But right now, he doesn't pass the test.
We'll see where the next couple months take us with these four. (No, I haven't forgotten about the other Democrat running. I only get so much space, and these were the four of highest profile.)