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Nebraska Republicans spend final Senate debate taking swipes at president, not one another

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — The four Nebraska Republicans vying for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats spent much of their final debate criticizing President Barack Obama rather than critiquing one another.

Former Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn, Midlands University President Ben Sasse, Omaha attorney Bart McLeay and Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale gathered in Lincoln on Wednesday night and took the opportunity to rail against the Affordable Care Act, Obama's health care overhaul, which Sasse described as a "budget-busting bad idea." All four have vowed to try to repeal the law.

The candidates also criticized Obama's foreign policy, saying, for example, that Russia would not have bullied Ukraine if Obama had provided stronger leadership. The four said they don't favor U.S. military intervention and argued instead for stiff economic sanctions on Russia, which annexed Crimea last month.

Osborn, Sasse, McLeay and Dinsdale will be on the May 13 GOP ballot as candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican who decided not to seek a second term. The winner will face Democrat David Domina in the general election on Nov. 4.

In response to a question about federal spending, they said they'd take steps to reduce the national debt and federal spending overall. "I've actually shrunk government," said Osborn, referring to his time as state treasurer.

All four agreed that although the federal government should spend less in general, the U.S. military should be strengthened. Osborn said that when the United States appears weak, "that makes us more unsafe."

Regarding immigration, McLeay said he would consider providing a pathway to legal residency for people who have been living illegally in the United States. But that path shouldn't automatically end in citizenship, he said, adding that immigration reform shouldn't occur until U.S. borders are secured.

"Build the darn fence," said Dinsdale, referring to proposals to add hundreds more miles of fencing on the U.S. border with Mexico.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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