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Bill Nelson enthusiastically supported Hillary Clinton. Now, he’s not eager to talk about her.

Nelson reflects the unease Democrats have with Clinton headed into midterm elections.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds hands with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., right, after speaking at a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Fla., Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds hands with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., right, after speaking at a rally at Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Fla., Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Published Mar. 26, 2018
Updated Mar. 26, 2018

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson was an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2016 but would he campaign with her this year as he seeks re-election?

"Well, I did," the three-term Democrat told the Tampa Bay Times in an impromptu chat after Capitol news conference last week.

But will you? "I haven't thought about that."

Would you if that was offered? Do you think she would be an asset to you? "I'm not going to answer that. Obviously when she was a candidate, I campaigned with her. That's like you asking me would I campaign with Robert Redford. … We'll take that up when we get there."

That doesn't sound very enthusiastic. "Well, I'll tell you I've already had some very fine people come and help me out. I'll still be reaching out but I'm not at the point … I've got, what, 7 months from now?"

The ambivalence displays the general mood among Democrats about the 2016 Democratic nominee. Republicans have been hammering away at this discomfort, which Clinton has contributed greatly to with recent comments attributing her loss to Donald Trump on the "middle" of the country, implying voters there were drawn to a campaign that  "was looking backward."

The NRSC on Monday released a Facebook ad in Florida that seeks to remind Florida voters of Nelson's support for Clinton, who lost the biggest swing state to Trump by just over 1 percentage point.

Asked about Clinton's comments, Nelson said he wasn't familiar with them.

"I know you want me to comment but what I've found is if I don't know what I'm talking about it's best not to comment," he said.

Contrast that with what Sen. Claire McCaskill had to say:

Trump won McCaskill's Missouri by 19 points, so it's a bit different than purple Florida. And the president and the GOP aren't exactly racing into the midterms in a position of strength.

But Clinton will remain an issue for Nelson.

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