By Javier Manjarres
Where is Senator Bill Nelson of late? Some Republican and Democrat politicos are asking that very question, and some are even joking about filing a missing persons report on the two-term Senator from Florida. Aside from his cameo appearance at the Democratic National Committee convention last month in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nelson appears to have retreated into seclusion, based on his noticeable lack of public appearances.
Nelson’s campaign has been busy attacking his Republican opponent Congressman Connie Mack on some of his past personal missteps and greatest ‘hits’ (pun intended), but Nelson has refused to contrast himself with Mack on issues and policy because that’s where Mack enjoys a clear advantage.
So just where has Senator Nelson been? Some are now speculating that Nelson’s health is in decline or that he has just been ill with some unknown ailment which have kept his public appearances to a bare minimum.
Our first encounter with the Senator was at the Fountainbleu Hotel on Miami Beach in September 2011, during the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce annual meeting where we ran into the good senator as he was checking into the hotel. Senator Nelson took a few minutes to chat with me and told us that the reason that NASA indefinitely postponed the Space shuttle program was because “we needed to make the spacecraft safer.” (Source-Hispanic Chamber)
The Shark Tank also caught up with Senator Nelson a few months ago in Miami at a fundraising event for the pro-gay rights organization, Save Dade. Nelson was seemed to be on his toes although he was a little sluggish, but lets consider that the senator is 70 years of age, so we will cut him some some slack. Just as Senator Nelson was about to leave the stage, I noticed his ‘entourage’ of staffers singling out your lovable and well-honed reporter, yours truly, and just as he stepped off the stage and whisked him out the back door- not the main entrance that he came through. Exit stage left! (Source-SaveDade)
Both times, Nelson seemed to have all of his faculties in check and was very engaging. But still, his lack of public appearances, and the numerous debates he has dodged with Congressman Connie Mack is only furthering speculation as to whether the senator’s health really is an issue or he is just plain avoiding Mack.
Senator Nelson’s campaign Communications Director Paul Kincaid responded to the Shark Tank’s inquiry about Senator Nelson’s health and stated that he “has not had limited public appearances” and disclosed the senator’s September itinerary, but did not address the direct question we asked him about whether or not he senator has been sick. Aside from the days he spent in Washington fulfilling some of his senatorial duties, Nelson attended eleven official Senate office events but only seven campaign events throughout the entire month.
It’s important to realize what the consequences are of this Senate race. If Nelson were to beat Mack, the Democrat Party would push to see him fulfill his full 6 year term, because if Nelson decides to bow out before the six years are up, and Florida Governor Rick Scott wins his reelection campaign in 2014, Governor Scott will then be able to appoint someone to fill Nelson’s vacant seat and add another Republican to the U.S. Senate.
More on Florida’s 2014 Governor’s race shortly.
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