Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Buzz

on Florida Politics

CNN postpones Senate debate between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson due to Hurricane Michael

UPDATE: CNN has decided to postpone the debate at a later date to be determined.

CNN spokesperson: "Due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael in Florida, CNN, in agreement with both campaigns, is postponing the Florida Senate debate."

Here's the original story:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to postpone Tuesday's scheduled Senate debate with Sen. Bill Nelson due to Hurricane Michael, his campaign said Thursday.

In an email, Scott campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman said the Republican governor will be "solely focused on response and recovery efforts" and asked CNN to delay the debate by two weeks.

"We are sure Senator Nelson agrees," Schutz Zeckman said.

Nelson's campaign and CNN didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"We appreciate CNN understanding the dire situation in North Florida,"  Schutz Zeckman said. "Floridians deserve the chance to see candidates debate so they can judge their leadership skills, experience, and differences."

MORE ON HURRICANE MICHAEL: Florida Panhandle in search-and-rescue mode after Hurricane Micahel's devastating blow

Scott and Nelson are neck-and-neck in one of the country's most contested Senate races. The outcome could determine which party controls the Senate.

Last week, Scott accused Nelson of trying to back out of the debate, which the Democrat denied. Nelson had hoped to move the debate time to an earlier time slot, his campaign said, arguing that the scheduled hour, 10 p.m., was outside prime time.

CNN has aired dozens of promotions for the debate during its coverage of the hurricane.

Both candidates spent Thursday assessing hurricane damage. Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm on record to hit the Panhandle.

The storm has been the source of some tension between the two Florida officials. Scott, always a staple on local and national television networks during any weather event over the years, has made frequent media appearances in the days leading up to and through Michael's landfall.

On Tuesday when Nelson tried to gain access to the emergency operations center press room to speak to reporters about the storm, he was blocked from the entrance by state officials. He, too, has spoken often on CNN and to other outlets.

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