Kerrey told Creighton University's president, the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, in a letter that the May 18 commencement "should be a moment of celebration and not disrupted by politics."
The state Republican Party's executive director, Ryan Hamilton, said last week that Creighton should find a different speaker and "take a stand for their pro-life values." He disagreed Monday that the issue is political.
Kerrey says he supports Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Hendrickson told the campus that he appreciated Kerry's desire not to shift the focus away from students.
Kerrey also served as Nebraska's governor.
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