Bob Kerrey
United States Navy Medal of Honor recipient
Bob Kerrey
Joseph Robert "Bob" Kerrey was the 35th Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 and a United States Senator from Nebraska from 1989 to 2001. Before entering politics, he served in the Vietnam War as a naval officer and SEAL and was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) for heroism in combat. During the same action for which he was awarded the MOH, he was also severely wounded, precluding further naval service.
Biography
Bob Kerrey's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Bob Kerrey from around the web
Supporting Our Veterans with Equine Therapy
Huffington Post - 3 months
Ed and Cathy Kangas Were Joined by Senator Bob Kerrey to Raise Money for Equine Therapy for Veterans with PTSD. Photo by Annie Watt Those who serve in our military deserve our support, particularly those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to a Rand Corp. study released in 2008, 20 percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, but 50 percent of them do not seek treatment because of the stigma associated with mental illnesses. They often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Families are destroyed and communities lose those who could have made valuable contributions. What is more tragic is through 2014 each day some 20 veterans committed suicide. I believe each of us needs to step up and help our veterans. I recently joined with former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey for a program providing equine therapy to veterans with PTSD. Sen. Kerrey was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Vietnam War when ...
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Huffington Post article
New Voices in Vietnamese American Literature: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen, Andrew Lam, and Aimee Phan
Huffington Post - 5 months
Viet Thanh Nguyen became the first Vietnamese American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel, The Sympathizer, this year. His achievement was particularly emotional and rewarding for the Vietnamese American literary community because for over two decades he'd been actively working with other writers and artists to promote Vietnamese literature and visual art and culture. Here, Nguyen joins fellow authors Andrew Lam (Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres and Birds of Paradise Lost) and Aimee Phan (We Should Never Meet and The Reeducation of Cherry Truong) to discuss their writing, their inspirations, the diasporic Vietnamese literary community, and the future of Vietnamese American literature. The Q&A was conducted by Aimee Phan. Viet Thanh Nguyen (photo by Bebe Jacobs), Andrew Lam, and Aimee Phan (photo by Julie Thi Underhill), respectively. Aimee Phan: Although Viet's debut as a novelist ...
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Huffington Post article
Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam
NYTimes - 8 months
A narrative of forgiveness and redemption obscures the very real price the Vietnamese paid for a war.
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NYTimes article
Kerrey’s Vietnam Dilemma
NYTimes - 9 months
Former Senator Bob Kerrey should not quit his role at the new Fulbright University Vietnam, despite an outcry over his war record.
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NYTimes article
Bob Kerrey’s War Record Fuels Debate in Vietnam on His Role at New University
NYTimes - 9 months
Some question whether Mr. Kerrey, a former senator who has admitted that he and commandos he led in 1969 killed women and children, should lead Fulbright University Vietnam.
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NYTimes article
Can Activists Be Politicians?
NYTimes - about 1 year
DeRay Mckesson has become a powerful activist over the last two years -- on the streets and on Twitter -- in the Black Lives Matter movement. Now he is planning to run for mayor of Baltimore. Mckesson is one of a group of activists nationwide, hoping to turn their activism into political power. What is lost and gained when an activist becomes a politician? Responses: Activism Is Politically Essential to Society Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, historian Communities Should Create Both Derecka Purnell, law student Two Different and Important Roles Bob Kerrey, former U.S. senator Activists Can Be Principled Politicians Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota Ordinary People Create Real Change Ashley Cathey, Fight for $15
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NYTimes article
Message to Bernie: Stop Frittering Away Your Political Revolution
Huffington Post - about 1 year
After an energetic and dynamic summer, the Bernie Sanders campaign seems to have stalled. With the Benghazi hearings behind her and the e-mail scandal receding, at least for the time being, Hillary Clinton has regained political momentum and much of the pundit class has returned to its usual establishment mantra stressing the supposed "inevitability" of the former Secretary of State's electoral prospects. What is more, recent developments on the international stage, including real fears over terrorism and ISIS, have obscured the Sanders campaign within the media spotlight. Indeed, the media has paid more attention to the wild antics of Republican presidential contenders who have made outrageous statements about Syrian refugees, for example. Even as the media amps up its coverage of the GOP field, it has curtailed attention of the Democratic candidates. With the media class beating the drums for increased war once again, it's unlikely that Sanders will be able to get his message acro ...
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Huffington Post article
Sen. Bob Kerrey invokes Powell doctrine
CNN - about 1 year
Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey says the U.S. should send overwhelming force to defeat ISIS.
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CNN article
Vietnam: 50 years later
CNN - almost 2 years
Marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first U.S. combat troops in Vietnam. Bob Kerrey and David Maraniss reflect on the impact then and now.
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CNN article
Bob Kerrey and Private Equity Owner Defend For-Profit Colleges Without Disclosing Financial Stake
Yahoo News - over 3 years
The for-profit college industry has engaged in a consistent pattern of presenting defenses by powerful people without disclosing that the authors have a financial interest in the success of the industry.
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Yahoo News article
The Seven Types Of A**holes In Washington
Huffington Post - over 3 years
WASHINGTON -- Herewith, a definitive guide to the seven types of assholes running Washington according to the people who know them best. 1. Absolute Asshole Tom Coburn, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, said last week that he doesn't like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "There's no comity with Harry Reid," Coburn said, according to the New York Daily News. "I think he's an absolute asshole." Coburn later sought a meeting with Reid to apologize. "I don't look forward to it," Coburn admitted. 2. Major League Asshole On stage at a campaign event in September 2000, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush spotted New York Times reporter Adam Clymer. Bush leaned over to Dick Cheney, not realizing a microphone was on, and said, "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole for the New York Times!" Cheney replied, "Big time." 3. Asshole Central Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum once worked as a lobbyist for the World Wrestling Federation (now ...
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Huffington Post article
10 Mind-Blowing Bridges That Connect Two States (Or Countries!)
Huffington Post - over 3 years
There's no cooler way to pass from state to state (or from country to country) than by bridge. You're driving or walking along, enjoying the scenery, and POOF! the bridge drops you off in a wondrous new land. Here are 10 bridges that let you jump major boundary lines with one simple cross. Ambassador Bridge Links: Detroit, Michigan and Ontario, Canada Length: 7,500 feet You may not have heard of it, but you’ve reaped its benefits: more than 25% of all trade merchandise between the U.S. and Canada crosses this bridge. You can’t walk or bike across, though-- the sidewalk was closed years ago after it was allegedly found to violate the bridge’s charter. Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Bridges Links: Henderson, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana Length: 5,393 feet This pair of bridges doesn’t actually start in one state and end in another. But if it had been built just two hundred years earlier, it would’ve. (Say what?!) Well, the Ohio River forms the official state line between Kentu ...
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Huffington Post article
Disrupting Higher Education With Lower Costs
Inc. Magazine - over 3 years
With the Minerva Project, Bob Kerrey is creating a new model of lower-cost college education focused on effectively teaching critical thinking.
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Inc. Magazine article
Ex-senator Bob Kerrey sells Nebraska house
USA Today - over 3 years
Democrat Bob Kerrey bought Omaha house during his unsuccessful 2012 Senate race vs. Deb Fischer.
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USA Today article
Could President’s Syria Negotiations Hurt National Security?
Fox Business News - over 3 years
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, (D-Neb.), on the President’s handling of the negotiations with Syria.
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Fox Business News article
Dr. R. Keith Sawyer: The Creative Destruction of the University?
Huffington Post - over 3 years
A lot of entrepreneurial startups are aiming squarely at the modern university. In a recent Wall Street Journal*, Matthew Kaminski interviews Ben Nelson, the founder of the Minerva Project -- a for-profit company that intends to completely revision what a university is. Kaminski writes, "Higher education's product-delivery system -- a professor droning to a limited number of students in a room -- dates back a thousand years." In similar circumstances, Wal-Mart destroyed America's small retail chains. Amazon destroyed Borders. Economists refer to this process as "creative destruction," and Ben Nelson wants to destroy Harvard. Well, maybe not to completely destroy it: "Our goal is to displace Harvard" as the number one university in the world. Minerva proposes to provide a better education than Harvard, at less than half the cost. Yeah, right; this guy no one has ever heard of is going to displace the world's strongest educational brand in the world? But he has some high-prof ...
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Huffington Post article
GOP Governor's Decision Could Shape Race
Huffington Post - about 4 years
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Republican primary to replace U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns in Nebraska could unfold as an open-and-shut contest or a wide-open race, depending on what Gov. Dave Heineman decides. Heineman would enter the 2014 election as a heavy favorite if he chooses to run for the seat, and his decision to run likely would keep other GOP hopefuls from joining the contest, party officials and strategists said Tuesday. Conversely, a decision by Heineman not to run would unleash a flurry of candidates without an obvious front-runner. Johanns announced Monday that he would not seek re-election in 2014, saying he and his wife wanted to move to a new phase of their lives after a 32-year career in public service. Heineman said Monday he is considering a run for the seat, but he stressed during an unplanned news conference that he had not decided one way or the other. Heineman, the state's longest-serving governor, has enjoyed fairly consistent approval ratings in the ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Bob Kerrey
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2014
    Age 70
    Kerrey criticized the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture as "unfair" and "partisan".
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  • 2013
    Age 69
    In 2013, Kerrey joined the Carmen Group lobbying firm.
    More Details Hide Details Kerrey is a co-chair for the Advisory Board of Issue One, an organization that describes its mission as "fighting for real solutions to the problem of money in politics". Kerrey was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the son of Elinor Fern (née Gonder), a University of Nebraska instructor, and James Henry Kerrey, a builder and businessman. He attended public schools, graduating from Lincoln Northeast High School.
  • 2012
    Age 68
    A 2012 New York Times op-ed by columnist Frank Bruni states that Kerrey describes himself as an agnostic.
    More Details Hide Details On September 9, 2008, a pedestrian bridge connecting Omaha, Nebraska with Council Bluffs, Iowa was named in Kerrey's honor by the Omaha City Council.
    In December 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that in 2010, the year of his anticipated departure, his salary was more than $600,000, and his total take-home pay, including bonuses, deferred compensation and nontaxable benefits, was $3,047,703, making Kerrey the highest-paid private college president in the United States.
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    On February 27, 2012, the Washington Post reported that Kerrey had earlier decided against a run, but that an aide had confirmed that he was now filing to seek election to his old Senate seat.
    More Details Hide Details He won the May 15 Democratic primary against four minor candidates. However, he was defeated on November 6 by Republican state senator Deb Fischer. Kerrey narrowly won the state's two largest counties, Douglas and Lancaster—home to Omaha and Lincoln, respectively—but only won three other counties. His margin in Omaha and Lincoln was not nearly enough to overcome Fischer's margin in the more rural parts of the state.
    Kerrey ran again for his old senate seat after the retirement of Incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Nelson in 2012, but was defeated by Republican candidate State Senator Deb Fischer.
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    In 2012, Kerrey sought election to his old Senate seat to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson.
    More Details Hide Details He lost to Republican nominee Deb Fischer.
  • 2011
    Age 67
    On December 27, 2011, Political Wire reported that Ben Nelson, who had succeeded Kerrey in the Senate, would not seek re-election, and asserted that Kerrey was in talks with senior Democrats about the possibility of replacing him.
    More Details Hide Details The Washington Post reported that Kerrey would neither confirm nor deny the rumor. American Crossroads had been running advertisements critical of Kerrey's potential Nebraska Senate run, focusing on the fact that Kerrey had been living in New York for the last ten years. Kerrey responded to the ads with an invitation for Karl Rove to eat at one of Kerrey's restaurants in Nebraska, or to work out at one of his gyms that he owns in that state.
    Kerrey's time as President concluded on January 1, 2011.
    More Details Hide Details He was succeeded by David E. Van Zandt. Kerrey was then appointed President Emeritus.
  • 2010
    Age 66
    In May 2010, he was selected to become the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, but he and the MPAA could not reach an agreement, so former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd was chosen instead.
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  • 2009
    Age 65
    Early in the morning of April 10, 2009, 19 students took over the 65 5th Avenue building, erecting an anarchist flag and demanding once again that Kerrey resign.
    More Details Hide Details A few hours later, about 20 police officers entered the building, arresting 22 students and ending the occupation after five hours.
  • 2008
    Age 64
    On December 10, 2008 it was announced that Kerrey had received a vote of no confidence from the University's senior faculty.
    More Details Hide Details This was perceived to have come as a response to his management style. The no-confidence vote was largely a symbolic gesture. The Board of Trustees offered their unanimous support for Kerrey at a meeting following the faculty vote. On December 16, 2008, dozens of students took over the cafeteria in the 65 5th Avenue building; as the occupation continued, the group grew into hundreds of students from the New School, other New York City based universities, labor union members, and other supporters. Initially, the students stated that they would not leave the building unless several school officials resigned. Kerrey attempted to have a discussion with the students at the beginning of the occupation, but the students voted down that option. The occupation ended after 30 hours when the two parties accepted a treaty; Kerrey agreed to amnesty for the students involved in the occupation, more student space, and more student input in school investments and decision making.
  • 2005
    Age 61
    On April 14, 2005, Kerrey announced that the university was changing its name from "New School University" to "The New School", and rebranding its eight divisions as specialized, separate entities serving different constituencies.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 2001
    Age 57
    During this time he more than doubled the endowment, taking it from $94 million in 2001 to $206 million today.
    More Details Hide Details He also secured substantial federal funding for the school. Both of these factors helped the New School accomplish major academic growth and expansion in the decade that Kerrey was President. Kerrey presided over an ambitious program of academic development at the university. Under his leadership, the university launched numerous new academic programs, including several joint degree programs. Enrollment increased by 44% to over 10,200, and online course enrollment doubled. He also oversaw an increase in the size of the faculty. The number of full-time faculty members grew from 156 in 2001 to more than 372 in 2009. He also helped to establish the Faculty Senate, which allowed the school to set university-wide standards for promotion, hiring, and faculty evaluation. Additionally, tenure was instituted for all academic departments.
    Kerrey served as President of the New School from 2001 to 2010.
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    The commission was created by Congressional legislation to investigate the circumstances of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and to provide recommendations of actions that could help prevent future similar attacks.
    More Details Hide Details It was a bipartisan commission of five Democrats and five Republicans. The commission issued its final report, the 9/11 Commission Report on July 22, 2004.
    From 2001 to 2010, he served as president of The New School, a university in New York City.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1992
    Age 48
    Kerrey finished third in the New Hampshire primary in February 1992, despite spending heavily on TV advertising.
    More Details Hide Details He briefly rebounded after winning the South Dakota primary but soon dropped out of the race after finishing fourth in the Colorado primary. Kerrey was on Clinton's "short list" for vice presidential candidate, but Tennessee Senator Al Gore received the nod instead.
    Kerrey was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.
    More Details Hide Details He retired from the Senate in 2000 and was replaced by former Governor and fellow Democrat Ben Nelson.
  • 1991
    Age 47
    In September 1991, Kerrey announced his candidacy for the 1992 Democratic nomination for president.
    More Details Hide Details In a small field of five second-tier candidates devoid of an early frontrunner, Kerrey was seen as the early favorite. However, his performance on the campaign trail sometimes seemed lackluster, especially in comparison to the dynamic Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton.
  • 1989
    Age 45
    Senator Kerrey was a member of the Agriculture Committee and the Finance Committee, and was a member of the Appropriations Committee from 1989 to 1996.
    More Details Hide Details He also served as vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee from 1995 to 1999. He was the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 104th Congress before retiring in 2000. Kerrey voted for the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which repealed the Glass–Steagall Act in 1999, defending his position against opposition by stating, "The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown". After his retirement from the Senate, Kerrey served on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 Commission.
  • 1988
    Age 44
    In 1988, Kerrey ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by recently appointed incumbent Republican David Karnes.
    More Details Hide Details He won the Democratic primary with 92% of the vote. In the general election, he defeated Karnes 57%-42%. Kerrey won re-election to a second term defeating businesswoman Jan Stoney 55%-45%
  • 1986
    Age 42
    In 1986, he served as the Chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1983
    Age 39
    While he was Governor of Nebraska, Kerrey dated actress Debra Winger while the latter was in Lincoln filming Terms of Endearment (part of which is set in Nebraska), which won the 1983 Oscar for Best Picture.
    More Details Hide Details When confronted with intense questioning by the press over the nature of the relationship, Kerrey famously replied; "What can I sayshe swept me off my foot", alluding to the fact that the lower part of one of his legs was amputated because of injuries sustained in his Medal of Honor action in Vietnam. Kerrey is friends with fellow Vietnam veteran Jim Webb. In 2006 he became involved in convincing Webb to run for the US Senate. Webb entered the Virginia Democratic Primary, and Kerrey volunteered to serve as Webb's National Finance Chair. Webb went on to win the extremely close election in Virginia, defeating George Allen. Kerrey has also endorsed, and appeared at campaign events for, Al Franken in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. Kerrey is married to Sarah Paley. They have a son, Henry (b. September 10, 2001). He has two children from his previous marriage: Ben and Lindsey.
    He served as governor from 1983 to 1987.
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  • 1982
    Age 38
    In 1982, Kerrey ran for Governor of Nebraska and defeated incumbent Republican Charles Thone.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1969
    Age 25
    He lost the lower part of one leg in combat and received the Medal of Honor for action near Nha Trang Bay in South Vietnam on March 14, 1969.
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    On February 25, 1969, he led a Swift Boat raid on the isolated peasant village of Thanh Phong, Vietnam, targeting a Viet Cong leader whom intelligence suggested would be present.
    More Details Hide Details The village was considered part of a free-fire zone by the U.S. military. Kerrey's SEAL team first encountered a villager's house. Later, according to Kerrey, the team was shot at from the village and returned fire, only to find after the battle that some of the deceased appeared to be under 18, clustered together in the center of the village. "The thing that I will remember until the day I die is walking in and finding, I don't know, 14 or so, I don't even know what the number was, women and children who were dead", Kerrey said in 1998. "I was expecting to find Vietcong soldiers with weapons, dead. Instead I found women and children." In contrast, Gerhard Klann, a member of Kerrey's SEAL team, gave a different version independently supported by a separate interview with Vietnamese woman Pham Tri Lanh. According to Klann, the team rounded up the women and children from hooches and decided to "kill them and get out of there", for fear that they would alert enemy soldiers. Kerrey responded to Klann's account by stating "it's not my memory of it", and accused Klann of being jealous that Kerrey had not assisted him in obtaining a Medal of Honor for a later mission. Other members of Kerrey's SEAL team also "wholeheartedly" denied Klann's account.
  • 1966
    Age 22
    Kerrey served in the United States Navy as a SEAL officer from 1966 to 1969 during the Vietnam War.
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    He went on to earn a degree in pharmacy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details Kerrey pledged Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and during his senior year he was tackled into the Society of Innocents, the chancellor's senior honorary society of spirit boosters.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1943
    Born
    Born on August 27, 1943.
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