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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dream Defenders to Matt Gaetz: Care to debate that point?



It’s on.

In a flurry of Tweets on Sunday and Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz agreed to a televised debate with Dream Defenders Director Phillip Agnew.

The topic: Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law.

Agnew said he challenged Gaetz to a verbal duel late Sunday after spotting news reports that Gaetz wouldn't support changing “one damn comma” in the self-defense law. Gaetz has been tapped by House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on Stand Your Ground this fall.

Agnew’s Tweet to Gaetz: @mattgaetz tv debate on #standyourground? I’m in the Capitol.

The reply from the Fort Walton Beach Republican: Looking forward to it. But please keep naked ppl out of the Capitol Chapel til then.

Gaetz was referencing a Capitol Police report that some of Agnew’s Dream Defenders been sleeping in the chapel half dressed. The group has been protesting around the clock for nearly three weeks in hopes of persuading Gov. Rick Scott to hold a special session on Stand Your Ground. Scott has refused.

As for the debate, Agnew said early Monday that the details hadn't been finalized.

The two should be a good match. Agnew, a 28-year-old community organizer, has already proven his oratory chops while delivering speeches on the Capitol steps. And Gaetz, 31, is considered one of the best debaters in the Florida House.

Gaetz was boarding a flight Monday afternoon and couldn’t comment immediately. 

But Agnew said he wasn’t intimidated.

“Oration is only half of the battle,” Agnew said. “At the end of the day, most people will see that this law either needs more work or it needs to go.”

Agnew wrote on  Twitter that he was already assembling a team of advisers, and Tweeted the message at Sen. Dwight Bullard, Sen. Chris Smith and Rep. Alan Williams.

[Last modified: Monday, August 5, 2013 4:57pm]


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