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    Nelson attacks record of opponent

    Democrats claim Bill McCollum is out of touch with seniors, but the McCollum campaign says he's proud of his record.

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    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2000

    PINELLAS PARK -- Democratic Senate candidate Bill Nelson accused Republican Bill McCollum Thursday night of trying to hide from his conservative voting record in Congress.

    Nelson told more than 270 listeners at a rally sponsored by the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club that McCollum doesn't want to talk about his votes to cut spending on Medicare and education or his environmental record.

    "You can't run and hide from your record, Bill McCollum, because I am not going to let you," Nelson told the crowd at Banquet Masters.

    The Democrat's pitch renewed an escalating battle over McCollum's voting record and previous positions.

    Nelson said Thursday night that McCollum voted several times to cut spending on Medicare in recent years and could not be counted on to follow through on proposals for a prescription drug benefit for seniors.

    "He is totally out of touch with where the people of Florida are and what they expect from their elected representatives," said Nelson, the state insurance commissioner.

    A McCollum campaign spokeswoman said the Republican, who is from Longwood and has served in Congress for 20 years, is not hiding from his record.

    "Bill McCollum is proud of his record on issues ranging from the environment to education to consumer issues," Shannon Gravitte said. "Bill McCollum believes in better government. Bill Nelson is for bigger government."

    Nelson leads McCollum, 44 percent to 36 percent, in a new Mason-Dixon poll released this week.

    After the speech, Nelson said he has asked the Florida Democratic Party to change the telephone number on an advertisement paid for by the party that attacks McCollum's position on prescription drug benefits. The ad urges voters to call Nelson's government office and pass along their support for his position.

    McCollum had called the use of the state office number "highly improper," and his campaign manager sent a letter to Nelson earlier Thursday demanding that the phone number be changed.

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