Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Politics

Romano: Debate isn't until next week, but it looks as if David Jolly already won

RECOMMENDED READING


I may be wrong, but I think David Jolly won the debate.

Not the one they had a couple of weeks ago at St. Petersburg College, but the one still planned for next week in Clearwater.

That's the congressional District 13 debate NBC tried to grab for a nationally televised broadcast but instead got stiff-armed by Alex Sink's camp.

So it looks as if there will be no big-shot TV reporter flying in from Washington. There will be no bright lights and no buzz outside of the 400 or so folks in attendance.

And, in the end, there will be no way for Sink to spin this successfully.

I'm guessing that makes Jolly the probable winner, no matter what is said or not said during the more low-key, grass roots format that will go on as originally scripted.

Is that a big deal?

Maybe not.

Candidates are forever trying to call the shots on how debates are staged. And when it's in their best interests, they'll skip them altogether.

For instance, Nan Rich has been dogging Charlie Crist for months about debating before the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial race. But Crist has nothing to gain by giving a lesser-known opponent a platform, so he ignores her.

And that's fine … if you're certain you're going to win the election.

Skipping a debate — or, in this case, keeping it away from a wider television audience — is a little trickier when the results are up for grabs.

Sink knows this. She once tried to exploit it.

Less than four years ago, she was the one accusing a rival of trying to sneak into office. When Rick Scott defeated Bill McCollum in the Republican primary without agreeing to a single debate, Sink pounced on the issue.

Immediately after Scott's primary victory, Sink published a letter asking him to agree to a series of debates before the general election. When he didn't immediately agree to all of the debates, she attacked.

"I called for five statewide televised debates and urge Rick Scott to agree to that plan and stop hiding from the people of Florida," she declared in a statement.

Naturally, circumstances have changed and, accordingly, so have Sink's strategies. She has been less vocal about debates and obviously feels that is to her advantage.

The problem is that Jolly is extremely good at packaging his message. He has a set of conservative talking points that sound terrific but have very little basis in reality.

And that is why Sink should reconsider her debate stance.

She may be worried about Jolly's trying to paint her as an Obamacare-loving liberal, but that's a short-sighted view.

There are undoubtedly a lot of voters who agree with Jolly's position that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, but there are also many who do not want to go back to the same haphazard emergency room treatment that cost far too many lives and far too much money.

And health care is not the only issue Jolly has been able to whittle down to a bumper sticker slogan. His views are far more extreme than hers, and that should make her a favorite in such a moderate district.

She may think she came out ahead by shutting down NBC's request, but in essence, she is allowing Jolly to control the public perception of this debate.

Comments
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Updated: 2 hours ago
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Published: 11/19/17

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama’s Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit the evangelical mold. ...
Published: 11/19/17
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Published: 11/18/17
PolitiFact: Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Here’s why

PolitiFact: Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Here’s why

Before gobbling turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie — or engaging in a well-informed political spat with your family — some of you might wonder where the Thanksgiving tradition originated.We wondered, too. So we talked with historians to get the facts s...
Updated: 9 hours ago
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y.Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t eno...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners recently decided to go after the pocketbooks of several residents who filed unsuccessful ethics complaints against one of their colleagues.If history is any indicator, the maneuver is more likely to cost taxp...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17