Rush mentioned this incident on his show yesterday, from Politico, January 14…
Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson and his wife were leaving dinner at a new pizza joint near their home in Omaha one night last week when a patron began complaining about Nelson’s decisive vote in favor of the Senate’s health care bill.
Other customers started booing. A woman yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!” And the Nelsons and their dining companions beat a hasty retreat….
“It was definitely a scene in there,” said Tom Lewis, a 41-year-old dentist and registered Republican who witnessed the incident. A second witness confirmed the incident to Politico.
It’s a new experience for Nelson.
He used to be a popular figure back home, a Democrat who served 8 years in the governor’s office and was elected twice to the Senate by a state that’s as red as the “N” on the University of NE’s football helmets.
But Nelson has seen his approval ratings tumble in the wake of his wavering over the historic health care bill, his deal-cutting with other Senate Democrats and, ultimately, his support to break a GOP filibuster and send the bill to a House-Senate conference committee….
Nelson, who has a track record of brokering bipartisan deals, said for months that he was unsure whether to back a Democrats-only bill, and he criticized language in the measure that would impose taxes and cut Medicare costs in order to pay for extending coverage to most Americans. But after weeks of negotiations, Nelson made his peace with the bill by striking deals on his state’s Medicaid costs and on abortion language — and, in the process, incited a furious backlash in NE.
Anti-abortion activists who have supported him in the past have abandoned him; he’s been the target of a fierce campaign by opponents to push him to block the bill on final passage; and the GOP now sees the opportunity for a pickup in 2012.
Meantime, Nelson is still viewed warily by more-liberal Democrats who distrust his conservative leanings and remain upset with his opposition to a public option.
“He’s kind of a man without a state,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of NE Right to Life, an influential anti-abortion group that had endorsed Nelson’s previous election bids but has “pretty much cut [its] ties” with the senator over the abortion deal in the health care bill. The group plans a rally Jan. 30 in front of the state Capitol in Lincoln and will weigh whether to use its influence to go after Nelson ahead of 2012, when he is up for a 3rd term…..
[HT: Susie A.; NE photo via Politico]