Nelson plays up centrist stance and roots in North Florida stopsby John Kennedy | October 24th, 2012
Democrat Bill Nelson visited family gravesites Tuesday and reminisced about his bonds to rural North Florida in campaign stops steeped in the past but designed to assure his future in Washington.
The two-term U.S. senator, who polls show holds a comfortable lead over Republican Connie Mack IV, is appealing to conservative voters across a stretch of Florida his rival must win big.
Nelson, whose ancestors farmed here in Chipley beginning in 1829, is looking for help from voters who usually lean Republican – a crossover move now increasingly important as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney gains strength in Florida.
“I have always gotten a healthy slice of Republicans that look at me as ‘me,’’ Nelson said. “Not as a partisan label. Same thing with independents…in bipartisan consensus building, I’ve been able to pass some things.”
Nelson stood in a Baptist church cemetery where three generations of his family are buried. While he spoke before a few family members, friends and reporters, roosters crowed in the distance on an otherwise quiet, sunlit autumn morning.
Two weeks from Election Day, the Democrat said he is confident President Obama will regain his lead in Florida.
But in a campaign swing that began Monday in Pensacola and continued across country roadsides dotted with Romney signs, Nelson didn’t mention Obama’s name, instead playing up his own strength as a centrist, consensus-builder.
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