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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Unlike Rubio, most Republican U.S. Senate candidates skip AP news meeting

2

November

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridoplos has endorsed Connie Mack in the race. "He is going to elevate the debate in the Republican primary."

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner has patterned much of his campaign on Marco Rubio. Here's one difference: Rubio showed up to the annual Associated Press editors meeting in Tallahassee when he was a candidate.

Rubio faced tough questions about immigration and his personal financial disclosures when put his campaign in front of reporters and editors around the state. Hasner, who has no public events on his schedule today, won't have to do that. Neither will former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack who also are not here.

The Republicans who did come today the only two candidates who have not held elected office: businessman Craig Miller and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Sept. 28 showed McCalister leading the pack with 17 percent while 58 percent of voters were undecided.

McCalister took a swipe at Mack, the newest candidate to enter the race. "If voters are looking for someone who is in politics, I'm not their candidate," said McCalister, who said he would be the choice for voters who want someone trained to respond to "global threats."

McCalister delivered his stump speech, but his delivery was more measured compared to the aggressive tone that has become a  trademark of his public appearances. McCalister today voiced his opposition against liberal judges, said communism remains a threat the United States and called China as an "800-pound gorilla with cheap labor."

"I'm an everyday citizen," he said.

Miller insisted that he has a chance to win and beat Nelson.

"As long as a Rick Scott-type person doesn't get in the race ... this race is wide open," Miller said.

Miller spoke without prepared remarks but stayed close to his campaign themes: That the former restauranteur is best suited to help turn around the economy. He supported E-verify, questioned the reality of building a fence along the Mexican border and said the minimum wage should be decided state-by-state, not by the federal government. (Federal law sets the minimum wage at $7.25, although most states - but not all - have their own laws. In Florida, minimum wage is $7.31.)

Miller also mocked the Occupy Wall Street movement, saying the activists should find a job or join the military instead of "sitting out at the Capitol in the cold."

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 12:35pm]

    

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