Senator Bill Nelson ready to champion Obamacare, highlight voter suppression in his campaign

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"As they see how this health care reform law lowers the deficit over 10 years over $250 billion, and in the next decade, lowers it by over a trillion dollars, as they learn how this law holds insurance companies accountable from letting them rip people off by taking a lot of premium dollars into executive salaries … when they learn all of these things, then I think people will understand, this is clearly a benefit of our senior citizens and the health care public," Nelson said.


Does he feel it's part of his job to educate the public, we asked? "Oh, absolutely," he replied, before waiting for the next question from reporters who surrounded him after a press conference on the RESTORE act at the Florida Aquarium.


A Bay News 9/Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald poll over the weekend showed Nelson up by 5 points over Mack. Most polls show the race tight. Last week a Rasmussen poll stunningly showed Mack actually up by nine points.


Nelson said the campaign will take its own course.


"People will take the opportunity to decide if they think that my public service has been of value," he said humbly when asked about the polls.


Nelson was asked about one of the top proposals Connie Mack's issued during his campaign for the GOP nomination, the so-called "Penny Plan," that calls for eliminating one penny out of every federal dollar spent.


Nelson smacked the plan down hard, saying it would cut the heart out of entitlement programs. "That particular proposal cuts more than a trillion dollars out of Social Security. It cuts more than a trillion dollars out of Medicare. And I don't think that's the way we ought to go," he said.


(This point is still up for debate. PolitiFact said this when describing the Penny plan: "We’d like to hear [Mack] provide details about whether older Americans should expect lower Social Security checks and to pay more for Medicare, or if they’ll be spared and in turn other departments will face much larger cuts.")


Nelson was also asked about the continuing controversy over the purging of non-citizens from Florida's voting rolls. Over the weekend the Department of Homeland Security finally agreed to grant Gov. Scott's request for access to a database that is allegedly the most accurate at identifying non-citizens.


Nelson agreed that non-citizens should not be allowed to vote in any Florida election. But when asked about the new purge list, the candidate took over two minutes to criticize the 2011 Florida elections bill, a bill that could hurt him at the polls against Mack this November.


Following his lengthy non-answer, Nelson was asked again what he thought about the Obama administration finally backing down. He again said he had no issue with eliminating non-citizens, but added, "When it's done to try to intimidate people, then that's a different matter. That's what we were seeing with that voter repression law …"


If Nelson ever offers a more direct answer, we'll let you know.

Although Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010, like a lot of Democrats, he hasn't exactly been highlighting his advocacy for the controversial law since its passage.

But he did vote for it, and since it will be one of the big issues of his fall campaign against Republican challenger Connie Mack IV, the question is — will Nelson talk about it often during the fall campaign?

"Absolutely," the Democratic Senator told CL in Tampa Monday morning, before going into a lengthy discourse about the various benefits of the bill. Nelson hit the major points that Democrats have repeated for over two years with little success in swaying the public. The rhetoric boils down to this: Once people know what's in the law, they'll dig it.

But that public enlightenment obviously hasn't happened yet, and most polls continue to show that the ACA still faces more opposition than support — even after the John Roberts-led Supreme Court ruling affirmed its constitutionality

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