Four GOP Senate Candidates Appear for First Time

Katherine Harris

SOUND: Before we begin, and I want to remind everyone - especially our four speakers - of the great admonition of Ronald Reagan: Republicans never speak ill of each other. We save that for the Democrats.

Apparently, no one told LeRoy Collins about GOP etiquette. The retired admiral and son of the former governor lets his views of the front-runner be known to all.

COLLINS: The notoriety that she's gotten for our party has gotten, in my opinion, has infected us all So on this occasion, I would like to suggest to her that she withdraw from this race. I'm serious. I think for the benefit of the country, the state, and also her own self-respect.

That front-runner is of course, Katherine Harris. Although the Sarasota Congresswoman has a commanding lead to secure the Republican nomination, she's badly trailing incumbent Bill Nelson in polls for the general election.

The four Republican candidates for Senate met this afternoon at the Wine Cellar in North Redington Beach. The event was sponsored by the Belleair Republican Women's Club. After the event, Harris shrugged off Collins' comments as those of an also-ran.

HARRIS: It's kind of silly to ask someone to leave who's trouncing them in the polls. So we're fine, we'll move forward.

During the forum, Harris told the audience that she won't, quote, 'kowtow to the liberal media or the Republican elite.'

HARRIS: As for the polls, we laugh at the polls. You can make polls say anything you want. When I ran statewide for Secretary of State, I was down 30 points. One was 20. So we did it before, we can do it again. All of our data shows when we turn out our base, we'll win with 53 percent. We can take this U.S. Senate seat.

One of the other candidates, Tampa native and lawyer Will McBride, says he's making a good showing in the polls.

McBRIDE: Our message is resonating. I am not a career politician. I want to go up there and take the values of a youth minister, a public school teacher, of a daddy of three young boys, and I believe Floridians want to clean up Washington, they want to clear up the stagnant pond waters that we have in Washington and put young, new blood into there.

Peter Monroe is a businessman from Safety Harbor. This is also his first race for public office. He sounded a conservative note, but differs with the Bush administration on how to handle Medicare and prescription drugs.

MONROE: I would like to see a free-trade agreement dealing with medicine to reduce prices, such as from Canada, other countries. As long as we have safety, I think there should be maximum competition, and if that maximum competition involves the federal government, I'm all for it.

The primary is September 5th.

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