The Daily Nebraskan reports:
[Pete] Ricketts ... scheduled a brief and informal meeting with representatives from UNL's chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
Jude Werner, the development director for the Newman Center, a Catholic community organization that reaches out to UNL students, said he called Ricketts's office to tell the candidate about the center's Catholic ministries on campus, since Ricketts did similar work while in college.
"We were just hoping to get some money (from Ricketts) and get the word out about what we were doing," said James Jansen, the campus director of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
In response, Ricketts's office sent an e-mail to Werner saying the candidate was interested in visiting the Newman Center.
So about 15 people ended up with a chance to shake hands with Ricketts and hear him speak ... [T]he candidate walked in the room, greeted each person, made small talk and directed attention to his widely publicized campaign against Sen. Ben Nelson for the Nebraska Senate seat.
"Ben Nelson is one of the least effective senators in the U.S. Senate," Ricketts said.
"He's completely ineffective....If we send legislators to Washington to solve problems, he's not doing it."
Good Lord, after subjecting the students to this latest routine, I hope Ricketts at least wrote the Newman Center some sort of check to make it worth their while. Can't really fault them for what sounds like a failed attempt at securing a donation - word that Ricketts has spent more than $7 million of his own money on his seemingly ill-fated campaign is bound to suggest that this is a guy with money to burn.
On the substance of Ricketts' attacks, it's hard to know where he's coming from but a place of total desperation. Just as Nelson deftly answered Rickett' charges of lying about his statements at the debate, all the substantiating evidence a person could want is available at PeteOnTheRecord.com. Nelson's campaign may have put a lot more emphasis on some of Ricketts' statements than he ever intended, but the record speaks for itself. Ricketts has no right to call anyone a liar - let alone a sitting U.S. Senator - just to avoid being held accountable for the most foolish and self-serving aspects of his now more discrete agenda.
As for Ricketts' most recent attack on Nelson's effectiveness in the Senate, Nelson did alright defending himself by mentioning his vital role in the centrist Gang of 14 coalition that prevented the shutdown of the U.S. Senate in Spring 2005. Still, one gets the sense that Nelson could have ended the race right then and there by reminding Ricketts that President George W. Bush himself had come to Omaha and testified to the effectiveness of his leadership and his service to the people of Nebraska.
A missed opportunity perhaps, but - with this race largely falling off the national RADAR as the Ricketts campaign has completely failed to materialize - there shouldn't be much reason to worry.
Although I, of course, would have liked seeing Nelson run entirely on his own record of standing for and by the people of Nebraska, one knows that Ricketts' endless resources would then be devoted entirely to a vicious campaign of character assasination far more intense than what we've seen. Ricketts hasn't been able to run that sort of campaign precisely because he's spent much of the last two months on the defensive - grasping for a message with no record of his own, pointing a finger at Washington D.C. politicians as he hopes voters don't recognize the same empty and undelivered promises that Republicans have been making throughout 12 years of one-party domination.
He's hungry to get on the attack - desperate, in fact - as evidenced by Ricketts' leaping at the opportunity to lob insults in front of a nonpartisan religious service organization "just hoping to get some money." Yeah, that's kind of sad, but I expect Ricketts has plenty more such pathetic escapades in store for us over the next 50-odd days before the November election.