Senator Bill Nelson knows he is the main Democratic target for Republicans to defeat in the 2012 election. He fully expects a large crowd of Republicans to try to win their party's nomination to take him on, in less than 2 years.
"And based on what happened in 2010, I expect we will see a lot more names popping up," said Sen. Nelson in a news conference at a hotel in South Ft. Myers. The senator was there to address a luncheon of the Chamber of Commerce of SW Florida.
"I believe that you can practice good politics by doing a good job. That is what I intend to do," said Sen. Nelson.
The democrat was first elected in 2000, and re-elected in 2006. Congressman Connie Mack of SW Florida has been criticizing Nelson by name since November second, leading to speculation that Mack could declare his candidacy for the GOP nod to oppose Nelson. Mack's people will not confirm any potential run for the senate. Mack however, issued a statement late Monday, criticizing Nelson's endorsement of extending the Bush tax cuts. Nelson says he will vote for them, even though he voted against in the early 2000's. Mack's office issued a statement quoting the congressman: "Senator Nelson is part of the problem and can't be part of the solution. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, and now, after apparently reading my op-ed from last week, he wants to confuse the issue. So now he's giving us a Half-Nelson, not a Full-Nelson."
The Florida Republican party also issued a statement, noting that Nelson has been a strong supporter of Pres. Obama, including voting for the stimulus package and the health care plan. The party accuses Nelson of trying to become a moderate, but the statement predicts that Floridians will remember Nelson's votes for Pres. Obama's agenda, and will hold the senator accountable in 2012.
On Monday, the senator did endorse an extension of the tax credits for first-time, and some second-time home buyers. He said, money saved from no congressional ear-marks could pay for the tax credits.
Nelson also offered some criticism of the Obama Administration. "I think the president has been ill-served by his advisors and people in the administration. The president wanted to move immediately to take command of the BP oil spill, but his people convinced him to hold off for a few weeks. That allowed BP and the Coast Guard to form and respond. I wanted the president to take a military approach, and make a chain of command to get the thing stopped and cleaned up fast. It did not happen that way," said Nelson.
The senator also says the administration and the Transportation Security Administration have gone too far in the pat-downs and body scans at airports. "TSA is going to have to change that, nobody wants to be patted down all over their body. This is not the right approach, we have to rely more on better technology and solid information from our intelligence agents," said Nelson.