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National Politics

Mack's RNC spot reflects importance of Senate race

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:47 AM
TAMPA -

With Florida a state that could determine control of the U.S. Senate, Connie Mack IV spoke today not only to the Republican National Convention but to much of the political nation as he declared a Ronald Reagan-esque "morning in America" with "new leaders on the horizon."

Mack, the current U.S. representative from Fort Myers who is taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Orlando, offered safe, upbeat remarks lauding GOP presidential and vice presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

His speech met at least one observer's definition of success: "He just has to not make any mistakes," said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at Cook Political Report in Washington, before Mack spoke. "He just has to deliver a solid speech."

He did, chock full of boilerplate feel-good references to big dreams, limitless potential, the American Dream, even the United States' successful Olympic athletes.

"Mitt Romney's plans to restore America's promise and purpose will be realized and the American Dream will once again be available to all her children," he said.

Mack faces a potentially ugly battle with Nelson, and observers say Florida could be a state to flip a seat Republican. Democrats now hold a 51-47 advantage in the Senate, with two independents generally leaning Democratic.

Negative ads have already been launched by both sides. But Mack did not mention his own race tonight, and never mentioned President Barack Obama by name.

"Our success is built on our values and our principles, but so many of them are under attack," Mack said. "Our commitment to freedom and liberty, and to everything that makes our country great, seems to embarrass the blame-America-first crowd.

"They penalize individual achievement while praising the power of government. But they have not, cannot and will not destroy our spirit."

Mack spoke for five minutes to a relatively restrained crowd.

His speech was the first on an evening scripted to culminate in the acceptance of the nomination by Romney.

The final-day slot likely provided a publicity pop to the son of popular former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III and great-grandson of the Hall of Fame baseball manager of the same name.

"This is an important race," said Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the National Republican Senate Campaign, "and the stakes couldn't be any higher."


jstockfisch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7834

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