Florida's two U.S. Senate candidates, locked in what's likely to be a tight race with national repercussions, have taken different approaches to their party's national conventions.
Republican Connie Mack had an active schedule of events daily at the RNC convention in Tampa and a high-profile speaking slot on the last night.
But Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won't be speaking at the Democratic convention in Charlotte and left the convention after a day of activities Tuesday to hit the campaign trail in Florida.
Mack has attempted to portray Nelson as a "lockstep liberal" with President Barack Obama, but that has nothing to do with Nelson's scheduling this week, campaign spokesmen said.
Nelson was "trying to strike a balance" between campaign events in Florida and party events in Charlotte, said campaign manager Pete Mitchell.
"He felt he could cover a number of events to touch base with the (convention) delegation and then get back to Florida and keep his schedule."
Nelson intends to campaign with Obama during part of the president's Florida tour this weekend, whenever the Obama events don't conflict with events Nelson previously had planned, Mitchell said.
In Charlotte on Tuesday, Nelson kept a busy schedule: a brunch hosted by lobbyist Tony Podesta; a financial services roundtable discussion at Bank of America; a Florida Democratic Party lunch in his honor; a stop-by at a National Jewish Democratic Council lunch for Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; a visit to the convention floor where he chatted with delegates and did media interviews; and a reception hosted for him by the Disney corporation.
Then on Wednesday, the second day of the convention, Nelson was in Pensacola for an event with military officers.
Asked why he's not sticking around for the three-day convention, Nelson said, "My campaign's down there," according to the Palm Beach Post. "I'm running my own race, and that's why I'm going back to Florida tonight."
Florida State University political scientist Robert Crew, a specialist in applied politics, saw little or no political significance in Nelson skipping much of the convention.
"The Republican convention was in Florida, which Mack is trying to represent, and the Democratic convention is in North Carolina, which Nelson is not trying to represent," Crew said.
Nelson isn't trying to link himself to Obama or distance himself from the president, from what Crew has seen, and he doesn't think Nelson's performance in the state will depend heavily on Obama's — except for the overall voter turnout expected in a presidential election.
Mack, on the other hand, likely needed convention exposure more than Nelson, said University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett, because he's not as well known as Nelson.
The Nelson campaign said the senator wasn't asked to speak in Charlotte but had let convention planners know well in advance that he wouldn't be there all three days.
Jewett also noted that Nelson might not be the most sought-after convention speaker. "He has many strong points, but giving a stem-winder speech is not one of them."
It's becoming conventional wisdom among political experts that the GOP attempt to gain control of the Senate could depend on the outcome of the Mack-Nelson race.