U.S. Rep. Connie Mack on Tuesday dismissed his Republican U.S. Senate primary rivals as too weak to defeat incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.
"I think the polls show clearly that they don't have the opportunity to beat Sen. Nelson. I do have that opportunity," a bullish Mack told reporters after making his candidacy official Monday night on The Sean Hannity Show.
Polls confirm Mack has a major asset in his name. His father is former Sen. Connie Mack III, and his great-grandfather is the former baseball legend. Mack acknowledged that was a factor but insisted Floridians know his work as a former state legislator and four-term congressman.
Mack took another swipe at rivals — chiefly Adam Hasner and George LeMieux — when asked if he had entered the race too late. "Although the other candidates have been in the race for a year or so, they haven't really been able to accomplish much," he said.
Like the others, Mack's gameplan is to portray, repeatedly, Nelson as a liberal in "lockstep" with President Barack Obama. "The only thing I have a problem with is when you have someone like Sen. Nelson who's a liberal and he votes that way in Washington, D.C., and comes back to Florida and tries to paint himself as a moderate."
Rubio changes stance
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who expressed openness before to an extension of the payroll tax cut, now opposes the idea.
The reason: The Democrats' proposal, announced Monday, would pay for the break with a permanent 3.25 percent tax surcharge on gross income over $1 million.
"The senator would oppose a payroll tax cut extension that's paired with tax increases on job creators," spokesman Alex Conant said, later adding that Rubio intends to support a Republican alternative.
Rubio was favorable to the idea when first proposed by President Barack Obama. But then came the task of paying for it, and Republicans have held firm against any tax increases. The plan is expected to come up later this week and likely fail, giving Democrats an avenue to attack the GOP as cruel to average workers.
State of State back to morning
Republican Gov. Rick Scott will deliver his second State of the State speech at 11 a.m. Jan. 10, ending the recent run of evening deliveries and returning the speech to a more traditional morning time-slot. Former Gov. Charlie Crist moved the speech to the evening in 2008 hoping to reach a statewide television audience with live snippets on the 6 p.m. newscasts.
Fla. lawmakers follow crowd
Florida lawmakers in Washington have joined the stampede of support for bills that would ban congressional insider trading — following a Nov. 13 60 Minutes piece that drew attention to an issue that has been around a long time but mostly ignored.
Support for the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act has risen dramatically. There are 99 co-sponsors, up from nine before the television piece. New Florida backers include Reps. Vern Buchanan, Alcee Hastings, Dennis Ross and Allen West.
The Senate version, introduced by Sen. Scott Brown, who is facing a tough re-election contest in Massachusetts, is supported by Sen. Rubio. A competing bill by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has the support of Rubio and Florida Democratic Sen. Nelson.
Bondi to co-host Fox forum
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will co-host a Republican presidential candidate forum on Fox News Network's Huckabee show Saturday at 8 p.m. Confirmed so far: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Times staff writers Michael C. Bender and Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.