Forget his Republican primary opponents. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, brushed them aside while talking to reporters Tuesday about his decision to run for U.S. Senate. His target, Mack said, is incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
"The idea that Washington will solve all of our problems is a failed model," Mack said. "Senator Nelson has stood side by side with President Obama...and I don't think I can say it any more clear than that."
Mack said he intends to focus on Nelson's record of supporting the policies of President Barack Obama's administration. He pointed specifically to health care legislation, the stimulus package, support for raising the debt ceiling and close relations to labor unions.
"The people of the state of Florida? What they're telling me is they've had enough," Mack said. "They've had enough of the lockstep liberals in Washington fighting for more government control of their lives."
Nelson's campaign had this statement: "There’s a dozen candidates on the Republican side and the primary isn’t until late next summer. In other words, it’s a little early to be talking about the election. Bill’s really just focused on doing his job in the Senate. He’s always felt that if you just do your job the politics will take care of itself."
"They haven't really been able to accomplish much in that year," Mack said, an assertion that rankled with at least one of his GOP opponents, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, who was appointed to fill the seat when Mel Martinez stepped down.
LeMieux went on the attack, offering up a faux memo to Mack from Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino that outlined ways the Florida congressman could burnish his image for his Senate bid. The column singled out Mack's pre-legislative career as a special events coordinator for the Hooters restaurant chain. He offered this suggestion to Mack: "You will be effective in a Democratic-controlled Senate, because you already know what it's like being surrounded by a bunch of boobs."
GOP candidate Adam Hasner also weighed in, with this statement from spokesman Doug Mayer. "Voters aren't looking for another career politician who follows polls and is running for higher office just because he can win, or because it is easy," he said. "They are looking for the candidates who can be trusted to do the hard things, take the tough votes, and stand up to the Washington insiders who are bankrupting our country."