The crowd was sparse—two members of the media, Escambia County Commission candidate Sam Archer, three customers and a guy with a ponytail in a Florida Gator sun visor and Obama pin.
Eventually, a dark Ford SUV pulled into the parking lot and the candidate stepped up to the microphone at pump number three. Mack said that it was time to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline. He said the project would create jobs and decrease the country’s dependency on Middle Eastern and South American oil. Mack called the pipeline “very environmentally friendly.”
At the end of his brief comments, Mack took questions. The first question pertained to the candidate’s claims regarding the Keystone—critics have charged that most of the jobs associated with the project will be short-term and the oil will do little to alleviating the U.S. supply needs.
“Those are two liberal, flawed arguments,” Mack said.
He said that it was better to be supporting a Canadian venture than purchasing oil elsewhere. He also noted that two Florida companies stood to participate in the pipeline’s construction.
“Anyone else?” Mack said.
The man in the Gator visor—Barry Goodson—had been raising his hand for some time already. Once acknowledged, the man asked if Mack also supported drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida’s coast.
“I support it,” Mack said, clarifying that he didn’t support drilling “three miles off the coast” and also wanted to see the military mission line protected.
After deflecting a couple of more questions regarding the Keystone pipeline’s environmental effect, Mack’s team called the game and motioned for Mack to get back into the Ford.
Goodson continued to press the candidate about the Keystone project. He told Mack, “Northwest Florida doesn’t appreciate a snake-oil salesman.”
The candidate didn’t back down from Goodson, who called the lawmaker’s claims regarding Keystone “bogus.”
“Tell me what’s bogus?” Mack said, making his way back to his vehicle.
Goodson continued to hammer Mack. He talked about how he didn’t think the pipeline would decrease foreign-oil dependency and about short-term jobs and environmental hazards.
“You know, your dad, Connie Mack, was a good man,” Goodson yelled at him. “You’re riding on your daddy’s coattails!”
The candidate posed for a photo with two people standing near the Ford, and then promptly left the Raceway station.
“He called me a loudmouth,” Goodson said afterwards. “He called me a ‘jackass.’ The jackass is him!”
The next day, Mack was questioned at a similar campaign stop in Tallahassee whether he had really called the heckler a “jackass.”
According to the Miami Herald, Mack said, “He might have been, but that’s not what I said.”