Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats says former Governor Terry Branstad needs to talk to his “good friend” Ben Nelson, the Nebraska senator, and get Nelson to change his mind about the health care reform bill Senate Democrats are poised to pass tomorrow .
Branstad — a Republican who is seeking a fifth term as governor — endorsed Nelson, a Democrat, in 2000 and donated to Nelson’s campaign. Vander Plaats says he’s going to highlight Branstad’s relationship with Nelson in his race against Branstad for the G.O.P.’s 2010 nomination for governor.
“It’s one thing to have somebody who’s a good friend, but it’s another thing to say ‘I’m going out and I’m giving him money and I’m endorsing him,'” Vander Plaat says. “And now the future of America’s health care really rests in the hands of that person you endorsed.”
Nelson’s vote has been pivotal as he is an opponent of abortion who sought changes in the health care bill before he’d support it. Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad, says Branstad agrees with the majority of Iowans who oppose the health care bill and believe it is a “boondoggle.”
“It is up to Ben Nelson to listen to his constituents in Nebraska who ultimately will hold him accountable for his actions on this bill,” Albrecht says.
Vander Plaats has criticized Branstad before for his endorsement of Nelson, who was Nebraska’s governor during part of Branstad’s 16-year tenure as Iowa’s governor. The two men worked, briefly, for the same consulting firm shortly after Branstad left office in 1999.