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Politics

Bruning The Bono Fan

February 2, 2011

If you're a Democratic strategist looking for some advice on how to go after Republicans, you might want to check in with an unlikely source: Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), the leading contender running against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)

Hillary Clinton is an "amazing woman." "I believe in gun control." I "think a woman should have a right to choose."

No, these aren't talking points lifted from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's literature or Moveon.org's website. They are from Bruning, who wrote for his college newspaper back in 1992, when he was a law student at the University Of Nebraska.

In December, progressive advocacy group Bold Nebraska dug up some of Bruning's writings. In one column, titled "Conservatives, Come Out Of The Closet," an eager Bruning expressed a strong desire to engage in a debate with conservatives.

"I would love to persuade you that trickle-down economics was a farce or that Ronald Reagan was incapable of understanding complex policy arguments," the young Bruning wrote.

Bruning recently made his Senate bid official and has emerged as a Republican frontrunner for Nelson's seat. He now finds himself on the opposite side of many of the issues he once wrote about as a student.

In one piece, Bruning wrote about a U2 concert he attended.

"I also will admit I joined arms with the people next to me and sang Elvis' 'Falling In Love With You' with the band as they left the stage," wrote Bruning.

It certainly isn't uncommon for people to change their views over time, and Bruning's writings are not likely to become a dominant issue in the campaign. Still, the contrasts are pretty striking.

But Bruning's passion for political discourse and debate was apparent, even at a young age.

"I'd like to encourage all conservatives at this university to engage in some substantive debate," Bruning once wrote. "In the eloquent words of the conservative President Bush, 'Let's Get It On.'"

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