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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Mack campaign retracts endorsement news release

TAMPA - The U.S. Senate campaign of Connie Mack IV issued an incorrect version of an endorsement from Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño that included statements Fortuño may not have made bashing Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. The news release quoted Fortuño as calling Nelson, President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "lockstep liberals," a Mack campaign slogan. That language, contained in a news release sent to reporters by the Mack campaign Tuesday, wasn't included in the version posted Tuesday on the campaign's website. Late Wednesday, the campaign acknowledged the news release was incorrect and sent out an updated version that also omitted the statements.
"Yesterday, an erroneous working draft of the English version of Gov. Fortuño's endorsement of Connie Mack was issued," said the updated version. In the original version of the news release, Fortuño was quoted as saying: "Electing Connie Mack to the U.S. Senate and defeating liberal Senator Bill Nelson will help make sure conservatives have another champion for freedom in the Senate, and that Harry Reid, President Obama, and Washington's other Lockstep Liberals can't inflict any more damage on the nation." The Fortuño statement posted on the website Tuesday and the updated news release used a different version of the quote: "Electing Connie Mack to the U.S. Senate will help make sure we have another champion for freedom in the Senate. Our friends, families and neighbors in Florida need a fighter for fiscal responsibility and freedom — they need Connie Mack in the U.S. Senate." The Mack campaign didn't respond to questions about who wrote the quotes attributed to Fortuño in the earlier release, whether Fortuño's office approved them, or whether Fortuño ever made the statements criticizing Nelson, Obama and Reid. Mack campaign spokesman David James responded, "It was a working draft that got sent out." Neither the Nelson campaign nor Fortuño's office responded to questions about the endorsement late Wednesday. Mack, a Republican Congressman from Fort Myers, is the front-runner in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, facing George LeMieux, former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Melbourne and others. The winner of the nomination will face Nelson in November.

wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761

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