Even at 75, ex-Sen. Al D’Amato can leave an audience wanting more.

D’Amato gave the keynote speech this morning to the New York Republican delegation at the Clearwater Beach Hilton in Florida, an address that was equal parts self-deprecating and a critique of the Obama administration.

He called Rep. Peter King “a national treasure.”

He urged louder applause for former President Richard Nixon (his son in law was in the room).

And he told Republicans that while it is difficult to get elected in New York, they shouldn’t give up, reminding them that he was initially down in the polls when he first ran for office in 1980.

He also said he was “very excited” about the merger between his lobbying shop Park Strategies and the Albany-based Capital Public Strategies.

As Liz noted earlier this morning, the Albany firm is populated with former aides to ex-Gov. George Pataki, who coincidentally will be in Tampa this evening for the first full day of the Republican convention.

D’Amato, who held court for a lengthy session with reporters following his rather fiery speech, said the merger would give both firms a larger footprint.

“They’ve got great talent,” D’Amato said. “A number of them are former public servants in the Pataki administration, but we have a very bipartisan firm. We’ve added Speaker Miller — the Democratic speaker of the Assembly — he’s with us.”

D’Amato said it would help counter the perception that his company isn’t purely based in New York City or Nassau County.

“It diversifies us and I think it gives us a reach in a number of cases we are viewed strictly as a New York City or Long Island firm,” D’Amato said. “I think what it does is that it will give us a cross-polinization now where we’ll be doing a lot of work with our upstate counterparts who are now in the firm and we look forward to it.”

D’Amato also said the Republican Party needs to come to grips with the country’s growing Latino community by changing its tone on immigrant matters.

I asked D’Amato, who as Jimmy pointed out earlier has ties to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whether he thought her Republican opponent Wendy Long was too conservative to win in New York.

D’Amato hedged: “I don’t think her positions are such that she’s out of the mainstream. I just think that the numbers are very, very difficult. That’s a fact. I don’t see her as being too extreme. She has an incredible record as an attorney, having clerked as a Supreme Court of the United States.”