Mack faces tough questions on LeMieux’s home turfby George Bennett | April 23rd, 2012
The crowd of more than 200 was polite but not particularly fired up as Mack, the frontrunner in GOP polls, contended that he’s the best candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November.“Obviously I know where I am tonight,” Mack said to LeMieux’s hometown crowd. “But I know that we have the same goal in mind. We want to beat Sen. Nelson…..I’ve got a very strong campaign.”
Fielding written questions from the audience, Mack was asked to differentiate himself from LeMieux and businessman Mike McCalister.
Mack didn’t mention his rivals, but touted his record of supporting limited government. Then, he added, “This is about Sen. Nelson. This race is about who is best able to beat Sen. Nelson and kick Harry Reid out of the Majority office. And I am in the best position to do that.”
Mack, who is married to California Rep. Mary Bono Mack, was asked how much time he spends in California and whether he’d release travel logs.
“You think this is a loaded question?” Mack began. “Look, first of all, I’m very proud of my wife. She serves in the United States Congress and she does it very, very well.
“And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this question. But I’ll tell you this. Typically — not all the time — typically this comes from my political opponents who would like to try to make an issue about where I live. I know it drives people crazy but I was born and raised right here in the state of Florida. This is my home. When I’m not in Washington I come back home. This is where I live. This is where my parents are. This is where my kids are. So this is an attempt by political opponents to try to make an issue that just doesn’t exist.”
Then came a question about barroom fights Mack was in more than 20 years ago and more recent financial troubles he faced after divorcing his first wife.
“Do you believe your past run-ins with the law, personal problems and issues of financial credit is a character issue?” the written question said.
“Alright, who wrote that? Raise your hand,” Mack said jokingly. “You know, let me say this. The mud-slinging and the name-calling and the dividing of the party — we’re beyond that. You know this, again, this is a distraction from our real goal, which is to beat Sen. Nelson.”
He added: “I’m hopeful that very soon this campaign will turn away from the name-calling, the mud-slinging, the dividing and the destruction of our Republican family and we unite behind a candidate — I hope it’s me — that can beat Sen. Nelson, that can help Mitt Romney win the state of Florida, beat Obama, turn the tide in Washington….If not, we have President Obama for another four years. We have Harry Reid setting the agenda in the United States Senate. That’s not what we want. So we need to come together. We need to put our differences aside.”