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In Senate campaign, Bill Nelson clearly criticizes Obama contraception rule before Connie Mack, George LeMieux

In looking at the Twitter stream, Google, and campaign emails and websites of Republican Senate candidates Connie Mack and George LeMieux, there's one hot-button Republican issue they haven't gone out of their way to talk about: contraception, specifically the Obama Administration rule that requires religiously-run insurance plans to offer it.

But Obama's fellow Democrat, Bill Nelson, has offered up an opinion on the rule. And he doesn't like it because there's no religious opt-out.

"My position is that church affiliated organizations should be exempt, not just churches," Nelson said yesterday.

Nelson's statement was another sign that the two-term senator was backing away from the president (note: Nelson backed Obama's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the 08 Democratic primary).

While Nelson's criticism stands out, so does the apparent absence of talk (or perhaps proactive criticism by Mack and LeMieux while the rest of the Republican Party seems to take up arms against the contraception rule. Mack was on CNN this morning and has done a few radio interviews at the American Conservative Union's CPAC press conference, so he was likely asked about it by some reporter. If so, it shows Mack needed to be asked about it before he made it a big deal.

Update: Mack's campaign pointed out that, after Nelson's comment, it issued a press release attacking "Bill Nelson’s convenient political revisionism" and said he "owns ObamaCare." The word "contraception" appears at the bottom of the press release and doesn't actually give Mack's position (he's likely opposed) on the matter.

It underscores the fact that Mack and LeMieux are running economy-based, centrist campaigns that aren't always serving up the red-meat social issues that some Republicans crave.

It might be good politics. There's a possibility the Obama Administration could be a winner over the issue, even if it offers up a religious exemption.

Compare that relative silence to the stance of the Florida Republican they want to join in the Senate, Marco Rubio. He has sponsored legislation to repeal the contraception rule. And Rubio went out of his way during his CPAC speech to bash the Obama Administration provision.

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