Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Alex Sink campaign rejects NBC's televising chamber debate

The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce was thrilled when NBC News asked to televise its Feb. 25 debate with candidates in Pinellas County's closely watched congressional race.

"You don't get very many opportunities to get national TV," said Bob Clifford, the chamber's president and CEO.

But the plan, which would have featured NBC News political director Chuck Todd as moderator, ended when Democrat Alex Sink's campaign rejected the idea, Clifford said Friday.

"The issue was that they didn't want to do a nationally televised event," he said, and suggested directing any other questions to the Sink campaign. The NBC debate would have been shown on local affiliate WFLA Ch. 8 and portions would have been used nationally on cable channel MSNBC. The negotiations were first reported by Politico.

Sink spokesman Max Steele issued a statement that did not directly address television.

The statement said the Sink campaign previously had agreed to a "grassroots, forum style event with all the candidates, with a local moderator and with questions from the audience."

And it goes on to say, "This week, our campaign was informed that the Clearwater Chamber was planning to significantly change the event from the original format that was agreed upon, excluding a candidate and limiting grass roots participation. We've come to a mutually agreed upon format and we look forward to participating."

Asked why the campaign didn't want to provide a wider audience through TV, Steele declined to comment further.

Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for Republican candidate David Jolly, said the development shows Sink wants to control the debate "because she knows she cannot go toe to toe with David in an open forum."

"What will she ask for next? A TelePrompTer or for one of her handlers just to do the debate for her?" Bascom said in an email.

Sink, Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby already have appeared in one debate that was televised on Bay News 9, in cooperation with the Tampa Bay Times and St. Petersburg College. And as the Sink campaign pointed out, another televised debate has been scheduled for Feb. 28 with WEDU.

The chamber's debate will feature Sink, Jolly and Overby, and will not be televised. University of South Florida professor Susan MacManus will moderate. Clifford said about 400 tickets will be offered first to members of Clearwater's chamber, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.

The special election is March 11 in Congressional District 13, which stretches from south Pinellas to Dunedin, with portions of downtown and central St. Petersburg cut out.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at or (727) 893-8232.

Alex Sink campaign rejects NBC's televising chamber debate 02/14/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 15, 2014 3:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Man convicted of second-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe, his girlfriend's daughter


    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shore of a Boston Harbor island.

    Michael McCarthy’s friend Michael Sprinsky, far left, gets a hug from sister Laura Sprinsky after McCarthy is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bella Bond, who became known as Baby Doe.
  2. Rays make Hechavarria trade official


    Here is the release from the team ...


  3. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  4. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena


    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  5. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]