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Nelson, Scott Point Fingers In Debate Over Debating

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

Wednesday's cancellation of a scheduled CNN U.S. Senate debate between incumbant Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott has triggered a flurry of accusations between the campaigns.

As CNN pulled the plug Wednesday on getting Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, to reschedule a U.S. Senate debate that was scrubbed because of Hurricane Michael, the candidates quickly blamed each other.

The original debate was cancelled because of Hurricane Michael, with the candidates quickly blaming each other.

“For those covering the CNN debate cancellation due to Sen. Nelson backing out, please also note that Gov. Scott accepted a total of four debates --- long before anyone started voting, either in person or absentee,” the Scott campaign said in a news release.

In language emulating missives from the White House, a tweet from the campaign also said, “Bill Nelson ducks CNN debate. Refuses to reschedule after Hurricane Michael delay. Sad but not surprising.”

Nelson’s campaign tweeted: “Rick Scott refused to debate before early voting starts en masse Oct. 22. But we still intend to hold him accountable for the poor job he’s done and for stuffing his pockets in office.”

The pair had originally been scheduled to debate this week, but Scott’s campaign said the Republican governor needed to remain focused on Hurricane Michael, which caused devastation in Northwest Florida after making landfall Oct. 10 in Mexico Beach.

Nelson campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin said at the time that Scott was using the storm as cover. McLaughlin noted the governor has faced protests over red-tide and toxic-algae outbreaks, as well as questions about “how he’s enriched himself in public office” while on the campaign trail.

“We’re not going to let Rick Scott hide from voters in the last three weeks of a major election --- especially while he’s significantly increasing his negative TV attack ads against Sen. Nelson,” wrote McLaughlin, who also called for the CNN debate to be moved from a 10 p.m. scheduled start to a town-hall format.

Nelson favored rescheduling the debate for Sunday, but Scott pitched next Thursday.

Amid the disagreement, CNN tweeted Wednesday that it was scrapping the debate.

Nelson and Scott did give voters a chance to see them spar together for an hour on Oct. 2 on Telemundo. That event included Nelson being described as a “partisan politician” with no accomplishments in 40 years of service and Scott being told he can’t “tell the truth.”