Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the Tea Party-backed candidate running to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) next year, compared welfare recipients to raccoons and took a shot at the Environmental Protection Agency in a recent speech.
In the undated video, shot by the liberal group American Bridge 21st Century, Bruning tells the story of a local construction project that was halted so as not to harm an endangered species of beetle.
"So the biologist has to go out there, and he sets these traps," Bruning tells his audience. "They put a rat carcass in the bottom, and the beetles crawl up and they fall into the bottom of it. And they put all these buckets up and down the side of the road and they capture all the Burying Beetles. The biologist goes out in the morning, grabs the beetles, and they take them two miles down and they gently let the beetles out. So that the beetles will survive."
There's a problem with this plan that "the biologist or EPA or whoever it is" concocted, Bruning says.
"The raccoons figure out the beetles are in the bucket," Bruning says. "And it's like grapes in a jar. The raccoons, they're not stupid, they're going to do the easy way if we make it easy for them -- just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don't send them to work, they're going to take the easy way out."
American Bridge 21st Century was created by David Brock, the founder of Media Matters for America, to track Republican candidates with the aim of capturing just these types of gotcha moments on camera. The New York Times recently profiled the group:
Combined with a team of 20 researchers in a Washington "war room" that has a large rack of computer servers, the effort is part of a push by Democratic groups to bolster their opposition research. Republicans also have trackers, but so far have not assembled the kind of centralized video archive of political caught-on-tape moments that their rivals envision.
"Our obligation here is to get these guys on the record with what they really believe so they can’t walk away from their record," said Rodell Mollineau, a former aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and the group’s president. "There are many opportunities for us to record Republicans showing their true colors."
Sen. Nelson faces a tough reelection challenge in 2012 as the region has tilted toward Republicans in recent years.
The AP reports:
Republicans have taken control of two Senate seats and two House seats long held by Democrats and solidified statehouse majorities. Another seat is likely to be on the way in 2012, after North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad announced he wouldn't seek re-election earlier this year. That would leave just two Democrats in the Plains: South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, who is up for re-election in 2014, and Nelson.
Polls have shown Nelson struggling. Some have had him down as many as 10 points to prospective opponents. Even his supporters say he's in a tough spot.