Monday, June 8, 2009

Former N.H. senator now wants Florida's Senate seat

You can take Bob Smith out of the Senate, which New Hampshire voters did in 2002 when they denied the conservative Republican re-election.

But apparently you cannot take the Senate - or more specifically, the desire to be a senator - out of Smith.

Smith, now a resident of Sarasota, over the weekend kicked off his campaign for the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla. Smith, who ran for president in 2000 and briefly ran in 2004 for the seat now held by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., may be the most experienced candidate in the race. He served three terms in the U.S. House before serving 12 years in the Senate.

But arguably, he lacks the name recognition of two of the other candidates in the race, Gov. Charlie Crist and former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio.

Promising to run a "principled, passionate, pro-liberty, pro-Constitution" campaign, Smith in his video announcement portrayed himself as antidote for just about everything that is wrong with America today.

"I can't stand by and watch what's happening to our country and to our party," Smith said.

Smith has turned his back on his party once before. A report from 2001 explains:
In 1999 GOP Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire abruptly quit the Republican Party and announced his candidacy for president as an Independent. "I want my party to stand for something," he said, complaining that his colleagues failed to toe the party platform line on issues such as international policy, gun control and abortion.

When his campaign failed to gain popularity or momentum months later, Smith ended his presidential bid and eventually was allowed to return to the GOP. Some political analysts say Smith's flip-flop has made him vulnerable and may cost him his Senate seat in 2002.
Smith lost his Senate seat when former Sen. John Sununu beat him in the New Hampshire Republican primary.

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