Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign announced Tuesday that he has agreed to appear in three debates against the Democratic nominee, either former Gov. Charlie Crist or Nan Rich. The debates are all within four weeks of the Nov. 4 general election:
The governor declined to participate in a planned Oct. 7 debate sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, WTSP-Ch. 10 and the University of South Florida, which would have been the first of the season. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said three debates is enough.
“Three statewide debates will give voters ample opportunity to hear from Gov. Scott and his challenger,’ she wrote in an email. “He will be spending the rest of his time traveling the state and meeting with voters.”
But the debates may come after some voters have made up their minds. Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters Sept. 30 through Oct. 7. The early voting window is Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.
Meanwhile, Crist continues to take heat for refusing to debate Rich before the Aug. 26 primary. He leads her in polls and says his focus is on beating Scott in November.
Crist says he agreed to all three debates Scott has signed on for, as well as four more. In addition to the Times/WTSP/USF debate, Crist would also appear at events sponsored by Univision, WESH-TV and NBC affiliates, and Florida Public Radio in conjunction with the Tampa Tribune.
“Rick Scott limiting debates to three is a disservice to voters, but not surprising considering his history of refusing to answer questions to avoid going to jail,” Crist said in a statement. “I want to do more debates with the winner of the primary campaign.”