Politics

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson accused of political opportunism in wake of Osama bin Laden’s death

Amanda Carey Contributor

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, while discussing a voting bill in his home state, took the opportunity to tie in the death of Osama bin Laden.

Nelson commented that if Republican lawmakers in Florida succeed with a voting bill currently making its way through the state legislature, the very same military members who helped kill bin Laden could be kept from voting.

“Should we deny those very military that carried out this very successful decapitating of the Al Qaeda snake, should we deny them because they have signed their voter registration card in a different than they signed their absentee ballot overseas?” said Nelson. Those comments did not go unnoticed by state lawmakers or national and local media, who have been largely critical of the remarks.

When contacted by The Daily Caller, Dan McLaughlin, spokesperson for Nelson, dismissed the coverage of the Senator’s remarks as being from “political partisans and extremists.”

“Such remarks are intended to deflect attention from the fact that the voting bill in Florida is widely acknowledged to be a conniving way to restrict access to lots of Floridians,” said McLaughlin.

When asked to clarify the comments, McLaughlin simply said the senator “contrasted having Americans fighting for the democratic rights of people in other countries to the efforts in Florida to restrict one of the most basic rights – one person, one vote.”

Among other things, the bill in question contains a requirement that absentee ballots be signed in the same way as voter registration cards. For Republicans, the measure cracks down on voter abuse. For Democrats, it restricts voting rights.

Nelson went on to compare the fight for democracy against terrorism to the fight for democracy by voting down the bill.

“Now in an effort of 10 years, ever since Sept. 11, 2001, protecting our democracy, protecting us from those that would do harm and who provide this protection because our democracy is unique, we find ourselves gathered in our Capitol city of this state again here to protect our democracy,” said Nelson. “Now we are here for another reason of protecting our democracy and that is to keep the right to vote.”

Florida Republicans almost immediately pounced on Nelson’s comments.  Dave Bitner, Republican Party of Florida chairman, House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos all condemned the comments and demanded an apology.

Haridopolos, who is a candidate in the Republican Senatorial primary to challenge Nelson in 2012, accused the senator of “comparing pending legislation to a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of people.”