Politics

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson trashes Obama in private meeting

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida reportedly railed against President Barack Obama for becoming a party liability during a private caucus meeting Thursday.

Politico reported Friday morning that Nelson blamed Obama for creating a toxic political environment for Democrats in Florida and nationwide in the private meeting of top Democratic senators Thursday.

Nelson’s actions could be his attempt to start distancing himself from Obama before he goes up for reelection in 2012. The Palm Beach Post reported that Florida’s Republican Party is chomping at the bit for Nelson’s Senate seat, mainly because he’s the last remaining Democrat in a top-ranking spot from the state.

The Democratic Party of Florida did not return requests for comment on Nelson’s remarks, nor did several outgoing Democratic Representatives from the Sunshine State.

One such potential suitor for the Senate seat, Florida’s Senate President Mike Haridopolos, told The Daily Caller he’s glad Nelson finally spoke out about the president but said he hopes the senator will start demonstrating his change of heart with his actions and votes, too.

“Up to this point, he [Nelson] has been lock-step with President Obama,” Haridopolos said in a phone interview. “He voted for the stimulus, he voted for the health-care bill. I’m glad he’s saying something right now but his actions show that he is tied to President Obama at the hip.”

Another potential 2012 candidate is Florida’s other sitting U.S. senator, George Lemieux. Lemieux was appointed to the Senate after longtime Sen. Mel Martinez retired and Sen.-elect Marco Rubio will fill his spot in January. A spokesperson for Lemieux did not return TheDC’s request for comment.

Haridopolos said he has yet to make a final decision as to whether he’ll run against Nelson for the Sunshine State’s Senate seat in 2012, but that he has received many phone calls from voters urging him to run.

“It’s going to depend on who in Florida wants me to run,” Haridopolos said. “At this point, most of the people I’ve talked to have said that they would strongly support me.”

He said many people in Florida feel deserted by the Democratic leadership in Washington.

“Most Democrats I speak to say, you know, they didn’t leave the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party left them,” Haridopolos said. “They have moved hard to the left. The way Senator Nelson has voted the last two years, he has done the same. He has fully embraced President Obama.”

Many of those callers urging him to run, he told TheDC, are urging him to run based on his support for programs at NASA.

“He [Nelson] has allowed NASA to be destroyed,” Haridopolos said. “That’s 20,000 jobs, let alone the more important component which is national security. That’s why, I think, people who have been long-time Bill Nelson supporters are calling people like me and saying we want you to challenge Bill Nelson because he’s not standing up for Florida.”

Nelson’s staff did not return TheDC’s requests for comment.