While fellow Republicans were in Tampa, the GOP candidate at the top of this year's state races was back in New York, where Wendy Long faces long odds to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
New York Republicans gathered in a hotel lobby in Clearwater Beach, Fla. to praise New York's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
Wendy Long's ears must have been ringing 1,000 miles north.
"New York is a blue state," Long said. "My focus is on reaching out not only to Republicans but to Independents and Democrats. In order to win statewide as a Republican, you have to do that. That's my focus right now. I thought my time was better spent just being on the ground here, spending the time traveling around the state, which is what I'm doing. That's why I decided to stay."
National polls have Republicans trailing Democrats among female voters, which may be why the party showcased many of its female candidates Tuesday.
But Long's bid is saddled with two burdens: not only winning voters but introducing herself first. This is the Manhattan attorney's first race for elected office. Her campaign is in debt and she's well behind in recent polls.
"Sometimes the wind is at your back and sometimes it's in your face in politics," said former gubernatorial candidate John Faso. "And you just have to take the hand that's dealt you and just go out and do it."
Long isn't the only Republican choosing to stay away from Tampa. In fact, a number of those locked in tough Congressional races are opting to campaign back home in New York."
Her strategy: harp on the economy, play down her strict opposition to abortion and try to win big upstate.
Surrogates also are seizing on a recent report rating Gillibrand the nation's most liberal senator after a more centrist stint in the House of Representatives.
They have a new line: Gillibrand is Annie Oakley morphed into Jane Fonda.
"She doesn't have any principles," said New York State Republican Chairman Edward Cox. "We need to have a senator who is principled, who knows what to do, who knows how to grow the economy."
"Senator Gillibrand really hasn't offered anything and she campaigns around the state on fluff and offers no substance," Faso said. "You could knock her substance over with a feather."
Gillibrand is credited for her work on gay rights and help for recovery workers who worked in downtown Manhattan after Sept. 11, 2001.
Perhaps knowing a fight only works in her rival's favor, the Democrat's spokesman declined to comment on the attacks and only said the senator was focused on cutting middle-class taxes and growing manufacturing.