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Connie Mack considers move from U.S. Congress to media

7:25 AM, Dec 24, 2012   |    comments
Connie Mack
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WASHINGTON (News-Press) -- Joe Scarborough. Mike Huckabee. Connie Mack IV?

The soon-to-be ex-congressman from Fort Myers is contemplating the possibility of becoming a television personality.

Since losing his Senate bid last month to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, Mack has made appearances on cable news shows with his wife, California GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who also is leaving Congress after losing her re-election bid.

The husband and wife have debated each other on spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January, mused about life in Congress and, in a live shot from Newtown, Conn., last week, discussed mental health and gun control.

Mack said he and his more politically centrist wife have talked about the "exciting and interesting" possibility of working as TV commentators or having their own show.

"What makes us an interesting fit in this is we're both Republicans, but we have different voting records and we come to our decisions about policy and politics differently," Mack said Thursday. "I think that could be interesting to a lot of people."

Trey Radel, the Fort Myers Republican who is succeeding Mack next month, gave the Macks a thumbs-up as a TV couple.

"I think it would be a great show," the onetime TV and radio personality said.

Can it work?

There's increasing demand for succinct and entertaining political commentary on cable news and talk radio, said Norm Ornstein, a congressional observer at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. The Macks might be appealing candidates to fill that void, he said.

They also enjoy celebrity coattails. Mack is the son of a former U.S. senator and the great-grandson of a baseball legend. His wife is the widow of musical icon and former Republican Rep. Sonny Bono, whose seat she won after he died in 1998.

"They've got some things going for them," Ornstein said. "They're personable. They're attractive. They're articulate. They're already getting exposure. And you can imagine a possibility (of them) either becoming part of a stable of commentators on a network like CNN or even at some point getting their own show."

Mack's consideration of an on-air job suggests he's not particularly interested in running for office again, after eight years on Capitol Hill and four years as state lawmaker representing Fort Lauderdale.

Mack said he hasn't ruled out another run for office, but it's not a burning desire.

"Before I got into politics, I was very passionate about our country," he said. "The things that I fought for here are things that I believed in for a long time, and I don't think that'll stop just because I'm now not elected. Like everybody else back home that's a voter or participates in the process, it is part of our responsibility to let our voices be heard, so I'm sure I will continue to do that in some way."

Mack's exit probably won't disappoint House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who couldn't count on the Fort Myers Republican to support the fiscal deals GOP leaders cobbled together to keep the government running or avoid default. After a while, Mack said, Boehner and his lieutenants didn't even bother lobbying him for support.

A fiscal conservative, Mack was one of only 20 House lawmakers (12 Republicans and eight Democrats) who voted against each of the six measures last year aimed at keeping the government from shutting down or defaulting.

The Washington Post dubbed the group "the Apocalypse Caucus."

Mack is proud he didn't buckle.

"I wasn't here asking for something," he said. "I wasn't here like I want to be the chairman of some big committee. Or I want this or I want that trophy. I wanted to stand and fight for the principles that I believe in. And I knew that early on that that meant I would probably be opposed to what a lot of the leadership was doing."

Mack conceded his opposition probably hurt his ability to get leadership to back his priorities. That included his Penny Plan to shave one cent from every dollar of federal spending as a way to cut deficits.

He leaves friends behind.

Earlier this month, during the last meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee he chairs, Mack was reminded of that affection.

"We're going to miss you a lot," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told him.

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