Republicans Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse are both running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska, and held no punches during a “Nebraska power hour” on Glenn Beck’s radio program Thursday.
Beck has said in the past that he would be happy to see either one succeed, but wanted to learn more about the two ahead of next month’s primary. So, he invited them both on his radio program for back-to-back interviews.
Osborn, a retired Navy pilot who was held captive by the Chinese during the 2001 Hainan Island conflict, was interviewed first.
“News came out that you are part of a cabal with [Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell], and Mitch McConnell is not really liked on this program,” Beck began. “Can you tell me about your relationship with Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove and that whole gang?”
“As a matter of fact, Karl Rove helps [Ben Sasse],” Osborn retorted. “I keep getting painted in this way. I haven’t taken any money from any senators or their Super PACs in D.C. And Ben Sasse is getting his funding from out there. I mean, just yesterday, a D.C. special interest group popped up helping him out. It’s Michael Bloomberg’s D.C. team that’s behind Sasse. That’s just offensive to me.”
Beck asked for more information, and said he would follow up with Sasse, before remarking: “I’m sorry, Shane, that all might be true, but did you notice what just happened here? … I asked Shane Osborn about Shane Osborn’s relationship with Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell, and Shane Osborn just started going into, ‘[Sasse is] just not what Nebraska is.'”
The two agreed that “this is what people hate about politics,” and Osborn highlighted more of what differentiates him from his opponent before he remarked: “One other plug: Tonight, I’ve got Grover Norquist doing a town hall with me … I’m pretty excited to have Grover helping me out.”
“You’re close with Grover Norquist?” Beck inquired.
“I’ve known him for years,” Osborn said. “I think Americans for Tax Reform does a lot to help the movement on simplification. We need a fairer, flatter tax code.”
Beck later said it was “incredible” what happened at the end of the interview. He said he wrote down a couple of questions to ask Osborn, and “all of the sudden” it was like he “couldn’t even read the writing.”
“So I pause … because I was confused and lost, and I said, ‘say what were you going to say; go ahead,'” Beck explained. “And [Osborn] starts into the Grover Norquist thing.”
Beck said Norquist is one of the most “dangerous” men on the right, saying: “If you are going to be a senator, you had better learn about who the people are you are standing next to. It is your responsibility.”
Beck even added: “If you are a friend of Grover Norquist, no thank you. Thank you, but no thank you. We have too many GOP people involved with Grover Norquist.”
Beck’s interview with Midland University President Ben Sasse, who has received the endorsement of FreedomWorks and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, also didn’t skirt the issues.
“Assure me that you are not going to turn into an, ‘I know better than everybody else, kind of Woodrow Wilson progressive,'” Beck said, “and a guy who doesn’t have the experience with the free market system. Help me out.”
“Amen,” Sasse said. “That’s the right kind of skeptical question our founders would relate to. I’m a college president because I’m at a 130-year-old school that was going bankrupt, and I do turnaround stuff. So my background is actually private sector, and I’m in my fifth year as college president in my home town because this special school was closing … Now we put kids first, and we have gone from the brink of bankruptcy to being the fastest-growing college in the Midwest.”
Beck also asked Sasse about Osborn’s allegation that “it’s Michael Bloomberg’s D.C. team” that’s behind him through a group called DCI. Sasse responded that he doesn’t even know Bloomberg, though he does know some people who work for DCI Group, a Washington-based political communications firm. Sasse said a person from his home town who works there contributed to his campaign, but he does not receive official money from the organization.
When Beck asked about Sasse’s connections to Karl Rove, Sasse declined to say anything negative about Rove personally, explaining that while he was working for former President George W. Bush as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, his wife had a brain aneurysm. He said Rove and many other people at the White House were very kind to him and his family, and he’d rather focus on the philosophical differences.
“Right now there is an important battle going on for the soul of the Republican Party, and one side of the Republican Party believes in constitutional limits,” he said. “Another side is pretty content, like the Democrats are, to let D.C. get bigger.”
After the interviews, Beck said he wanted to know how his audience felt about the candidates, and encouraged them to speak out on social media.
“That was like — holy cow,” Beck said. “Dirty, in your face, everything we hate — and I think a few things we really love — but I know where I came down.”
Ultimately, Beck said: “People are frustrated, and people are just looking for people who are just plain-spoken, and it’s sometimes hard to find you way through the weeds. We have watched both [candidates], and we’ll support either one … whoever wins.”
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This post has been updated.