The guy has won 11 elections in FL over three offices (two of them statewide), been in politics there since 1972, and has a great biography as a former army captain and a bonafide astronaut. The fact that he isn't well known outside of FL is a PLUS, not a negative. The press will write for days about his life, which has been scandal-free and full of "American as apple pie" moments (video during his space voyage, military bio). He is telegenic and has a strong, straight talking voice. MOST IMPORTANTLY, Nelson serves on the Armed Services committee and was told by the administration that they had evidence that Saddam could attack America's borders with WMD (which we now know was false). He could bash Bush/Cheney over the head with this in the VP debate and on the campaign trail. During his 12 years in Congress, he represented parts of FL that are culturally more moderate and would likely help Kerry carry these swing portions of the state. I believe he would deliver FL.
Fortunately the Kerry folks are not overlooking him and have him in serious consideration for the job. He was interviewed on Wolf Blitzer's show yesterday exclusively about this topic.
*From (Gasp!) Bob Novak of the Chicago Sun Times from Feb 29, 2004.
Democratic strategists are focused on possibly putting a Floridian on the national ticket, but it may not be the most obvious choice, Sen. Bob Graham. This year's vice presidential nominee could be Graham's junior colleague, Sen. Bill Nelson.
Graham recently announced his availability for the vice presidency, following his short-term bid for president and his announcement that he would not seek a fourth term in the Senate. Graham did not help his reputation with his shaky presidential run, but Sen. John Kerry is believed to be looking for any running mate who would guarantee electoral votes.
The Kerry team could pick either Graham or Nelson, depending on who would do the most for the ticket. Graham, a former governor, is better known in Florida. But Nelson is a fresher face who might do better nationally. Graham is 67 and Nelson is 61. Their lifetime voting records are rated by the American Conservative Union as 19 percent for Graham and 17 percent for Nelson.