Debate-turned-'forum' will go on without Rick Scott
Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association say they will proceed with a gubernatorial "forum" Aug. 11, even though Rick Scott has said he won't participate. FPA president Dean Ridings confirmed Monday that the debate partners will still conduct the event with Scott's opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, as the only participant.
"We will have a panel of reporters who will present Scott's views on the issues," Ridings said. "We are very, very concerned that we do present both sides, and it's still our goal that Scott shows up. We believe the voters have the right to know more about the candidates than is presented in a 30-second spot."
Scott spokeswoman Jennifer Baker reiterated that the self-funded candidate won't be there. Scott had asked that the TV forum be moved from Orlando to a public setting in Jacksonville. "We want good geographic dispersion and we want more community involvement," Baker said. "We haven't changed our position."
The forum will be taped at WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando and moderated by WKMG's Lauren Rowe. What was a live one-hour debate on eight network affiliates is now going to be recorded at 2 p.m. and will be available immediately to newspapers and posted online. Ridings said each participating station will decide whether to broadcast the McCollum-only event.
Ridings said it has not been determined whether the set will feature an empty chair to highlight Scott's absence.