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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Who you callin' a liberal? Sen. Bill Nelson braces for a familiar line of attack



a4s_nelson020611_161486c.jpgThe punch is coming at him in slow-mo: L ... I ... B ... E ... R ... A ... L.

Even in the earliest moments of his 2012 re-election campaign, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson can see the wind up. Twice before Republicans tried to discredit him as a liberal. Twice they failed. "Facts," Nelson says, "are stubborn things."

But the ground has shifted and Nelson is a bigger target than ever — Florida's last remaining statewide-elected Democrat, a reliable vote for President Barack Obama and a speed bump in Republican plans to finish the job they started in the midterm elections to seize the Senate.

"Marco Rubio's election showed that Republicans certainly can, if they field a good candidate, pick up that seat," said Sen. John Cornyn, the Texan overseeing the GOP's Senate election effort.

One major Republican has entered the race, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos. He and other potential rivals have been nipping at Nelson for months. "He's a very good politician," Haridopolos said. "He sounds like John Wayne. He dresses like a conservative. He votes liberal." (story here)

[Last modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 11:01pm]


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