Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson found a warm welcome at Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana Wednesday, as he focused on an area that typically favors Republicans.
He worked the lunch crowd in the heart of the Cuban exile community – but the Miami-born Nelson was also met by a number of high-profile Democrats backing his campaign.
"I think those that take a step back and look at his record, and look at what he’s done for Florida and for the Hispanic community overall, I think they like him, and they’ll vote for him,” Manny Diaz said.
Nelson was shadowed by a political operative from the campaign of Republican challenger Congressman Connie Mack IV.
"We were here two weeks ago, three weeks ago with Senator Rubio – had a much, much bigger turnout than Senator Nelson saw today,” David James said.
The Fort Myers congressman sought votes before a friendly audience of his own Wednesday, appearing at a victory rally for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Miami.
Mack asked the crowd members to vote for former Massachusetts governor Romney and his running mate Congressman Paul Ryan – and then for himself. “Can you do that?” Mack said.
At Versailles, Nelson had a few words for the tone of the Senate campaign, which has been negative on both sides.
"What we have is extremism. That's not where Florida is,” said Nelson, who is seeking a third term. “People want bipartisanship.”
Nelson also ripped Romney’s 2011 statement about eliminating the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Any candidate who has taken the position that you ought to turn FEMA over to the states just doesn’t understand emergency management, and they clearly don’t understand hurricanes,” he said.
Romney appeared to suggest in a debate last year that the agency should be closed and its responsibilities left to the states. But in the wake of superstorm Sandy, his campaign is reassuring voters that his administration would not leave disaster victims in the lurch.
"I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters," Romney said in a written statement Wednesday. "As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters."