Video: Katherine Harris is staying in the race

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/13/2006 7:22:11 PM ET 2006-10-13T23:22:11

By her own admission, Katherine Harris' run for the Senate is an uphill fight — a fight Republican leaders like Florida Gov. Jeb Bush never wanted her to wage.

"I just don't believe she can win," said Bush on May 8, 2006.

But Harris persisted, and won the Florida primary.

"Together we'll prove the naysayers and pundits wrong once again," she said on Sept. 5, 2006.

So far, she hasn't done that. 

Harris trails incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by at least 18 points in recent polls.

And Republican leaders fear she's squandered a golden opportunity to gain a vulnerable Democratic seat.

"There's been issues regarding campaign contributions," says Jim Kane, president of The Florida Voter newsletter. "There have been issues about her staff and personal behavior."

Recently, Harris also drew fire for saying to not elect Christians is to "legislate sin."

Video: On the record with Katherine Harris Neither President Bush, nor Gov. Bush, have campaigned for Harris.

When the president recently stumped for two other Florida candidates, he briefly shook her hand, and only mentioned her in the audience.

"I, too, encourage you to vote for Katherine Harris for United States Senate," Bush said on Sept. 21 at an event in Orlando. "Welcome, Katherine."

The irony is that for many Republicans, Katherine Harris is a hero for her role in the controversial 2000 presidential election.

As Florida's secretary of state, Harris made history during the hotly contested ballot recount.

"I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner," she said on Nov. 26, 2000.

Harris claims GOP leaders don't support her now, because they're afraid of her independence.

"I'm going to fight for Florida, and they don't feel they can control me," she says.

Harris also claims she's gaining ground and doesn't need the GOP brass.

"Those folks, those Beltway boys in Washington, D.C., they don't get to vote in Florida," she says.

Tough talk, against difficult odds.

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