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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson looking over his shoulder at LeMieux

18

January

HT_314474_rive_NELSON_2 Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson talked with the St. Petersburg Times' editorial board this afternoon about health care reform, Florida's push for federal high-speed rail money and oil drilling. More on those subjects after the jump.

Buzz asked what his relationship is with Republican Sen. George LeMieux, his Florida colleague, and what his expecations are that LeMieux will challenge him in 2012.

Nelson prefaced his comments by saying, "I begged Mel Martinez not to resign," because the two had a good, personal relationship.

"Personally, I get along with George LeMieux very well," Nelson said. "He's been very polite." But then he said sometimes it can be hard to have a relationship when you "constantly have to look over your shoulder" because there are mumblings LeMieux will run for Nelson's seat.

More highlights from Nelson's one-hour discussion:

  • On Gov. Charlie Crist's own Senate battle: "Every appearance is that Charlie has let this get out of control and that he's got a real threat (in Marco Rubio)."

  • On health care reform: "I think it's gonna pass." Of course, he said, everything depends on Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat, where Republicans have a good chance of winning. "Obama cannot afford a loss on health care now," Nelson said. "Otherwise, he's gonna be crippled."

  • On Florida's push for federal high-speed rail money: "I think we're gonna get it." Nelson credits state Senate President Jeff Atwater with stepping up and getting commuter rail legislation passed in a legislative special session in December, showing the feds Florida is serious about rail.

  • On oil drilling: Nelson continues to fight to protect Florida's coast from drilling and points to a reaffirmation from the Defense Department that the military's test and training grounds would be threatened by opening the waters.

  • On Congress' agenda for rest of the year? Jobs, jobs, jobs.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:15pm]

    

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