Charlie Janssen says it's about immigration.
Mike Foley says it's about protecting the life of the unborn.
The two Republican candidates for Nebraska governor clearly are not on the same page, although both are talking about the same issue: whether to provide state-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants.
It's a debate in the governor's race, especially on the Republican side, where three candidates oppose such care and two support it.
In a campaign where all have voiced support for cutting taxes and reducing spending, prenatal care has the potential to become a key point of contention.
“When you're running in a Republican primary, generally speaking the differences between the issues are shades of gray. But to the extent this divides the candidates, there is no question it has the potential to be a defining issue,” said David Kramer, national committeeman with the Nebraska Republican Party.
On the Democratic side, the issue will be a non-factor. Chuck Hassebrook and Annette Dubas both support the controversial law that reinstated prenatal care for illegal immigrants under a state program that provides subsidized health care coverage for low-income families. The bill passed over Gov. Dave Heineman's veto last year.
However, Hassebrook and Dubas part company on abortion. Hassebrook supports abortion rights for women, while Dubas opposes them.
The prenatal care debate was one of the most emotionally charged topics in the Legislature in 2012, especially for Republicans who oppose abortion. They had to decide whether they viewed the issue through the lens of immigration or abortion.
Both topics generate passion and interest in GOP circles, making prenatal care a perfect wedge issue in the 2014 election, said Kevin Smith, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
It's an issue with little room for compromise.
“These are issues we feel in our gut, we get emotional about, we're passionate about, and they're easy for us to understand,” Smith said.
Foley, who is the state auditor, and State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege are the two Republicans in the field who support using state dollars to help illegal immigrants get access to prenatal care.
Foley argues his position is in line with his strong opposition to abortion. He said it's also a question of dollars.
“These babies will be born U.S. citizens, and it's in the state's interest that these babies are born healthy,” Foley said.
Carlson, who could not be reached for comment Friday, voted to override the governor's veto.
The other three Republicans in the race all oppose abortion, but they view the issue in the same light as Heineman.
Pete Ricketts, an Omaha businessman who is making his second statewide election bid, is trying to carve out a nuanced position on the issue.
Ricketts says illegal immigrants who are pregnant should have access to prenatal care, but the state should not be involved.
If elected governor, Ricketts said he would use his connections in the business world to help persuade business leaders and others to donate to organizations that provide the service.
“I don't believe it's fair to give state resources to illegal immigrants,” Ricketts said.
State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, another abortion opponent, said the Legislature should have stayed out of the debate, saying private clinics and nonprofit groups were already providing prenatal care to illegal immigrants.
Like Ricketts, McCoy says he does not believe taxpayer dollars should be used to provide services to people who entered the country illegally.
Janssen, also a state senator, has one of the toughest stances on the issue. The Fremont lawmaker has made his fight against illegal immigration a cornerstone of his political career.
In the most recent legislative session he attempted, unsuccessfully, to repeal the prenatal care law. He believes the law makes the state more attractive for illegal immigrants.
“To me, this basically made Nebraska a sanctuary state for people who are here illegally and who (may) come for medical care,” he said.