BRADENTON -- Republican congressman Connie Mack IV didn't waste any time Wednesday during a campaign swing into Bradenton: He got right down to bashing his Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
Mack explained to a crowd at Republican Party of Manatee County headquarters that this is an important election.
He accused the incumbent, Nelson, of saying one thing in Florida, and then doing something else in Washington, D.C., such as voting for what Republicans call "Obamacare," also known as the Affordable Care Act, a reform of the health-care system.
Nelson had advocated ending the nation's dependency on foreign oil, but opposed drilling, Mack told the group, adding, "That doesn't even make sense."
Polling data from the website Real Clear Politics shows Nelson up an average of 5.5 points over Mack, but Nelson's lead has slipped from 6.7 points since last week.
Mack, of Fort Myers, vowed to support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline connecting Canada with the United States and to fight for energy independence so America does not have to buy oil from its adversaries, like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
And Mack told the crowd that passing a budget in the U.S. Senate is important.
"It's important because, if you want to control spending, like you do at home, like you do in your business, you have to have a budget," Mack said.
"The Senate has chosen that they want to raise taxes, they want to continue to borrow from China, or they want to print money," Mack said. "That makes our country weaker, it doesn't make it stronger."
"So, when I'm in the U.S. Senate, we will make sure that we pass a budget that actually balances."
Mack accused Nelson of voting for higher taxes 243 different times during two terms in the Senate.
"If you voted for higher taxes 243 times, it's time for you to go," Mack said.
After the United Nations announced it would send election watchers to the U.S. during the election, Mack said he would vote to de-fund the organization.
"The only people who are going to monitor American elections are Americans," he said to cheers from several dozen supporters.
Finally, Mack said that, if you work hard in America, "You can dream big."
But under President Obama and Nelson, it's harder to do, Mack said.
"I'm afraid under President Obama and Sen. Nelson that that ability to dream big has dwindled," Mack said. "I want to make sure our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to dream as big as I've been able to dream, as big as you've been able to dream...
"With your help, we'll get it done," he said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.