Previewing the first Rick Scott-Bill Nelson TV debate

It's being taped at 11 a.m. in Miramar and will air at 7 p.m. Tuesday
Published Oct. 2, 2018|Updated Oct. 2, 2018

After months of battling across the airwaves in paid 30-second ads, Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson will meet face-to-face Tuesday in a TV studio in South Florida in Florida's battle for the U.S. Senate.

The RealClear Politics polling average of the seven most recent surveys in the race shows a statistical tie, with Nelson at 46.1 percent and Scott at 45 percent.

The first of their two scheduled debates will originate from the studio of Telemundo 51 in Miramar, midway between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"Gov. Scott believes that 'if a candidate refuses to debate, they should not even run for office,' so it says a lot that the Telemundo debate will be one of only two debates Sen. Nelson has agreed to — despite the governor committing to four debates total," said Scott campaign spokesman Lauren Schenone. "The governor looks forward to sharing his record and his goals to reform Washington and we fully expect empty platitudes and promises from Sen. Nelson because at this point, that's all he's got."

"Debates let folks see the differences between candidates," said Dan McLaughlin, a Nelson adviser. "In Scott v. Nelson, they'll see that the latter is a person who treats a public office as a public trust, while Scott has used his office to enrich himself. It would be nice to have a debate under oath and see how Scott explains his numerous investments in companies doing business with the state."

The debate will be broadcast in Spanish at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Telemundo stations in Miami, Orlando, Naples, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach. It also can be seen online at,, and Telemundo49. com.

It will be streamed in English at

The last time Nelson debated an opponent on television was in his 2012 re-election race against then-Rep. Connie Mack IV.

Scott held three debates in 2014 against Democratic rival Charlie Crist. They included the infamous "Fangate" debate at Broward College in Davie, when the governor delayed his live on-stage appearance for at least six minutes in a dispute over Crist's use of a portable fan behind a lectern. The fan controversy attracted wide national media attention.

The second and final scheduled debate between Scott and Nelson will be on Oct. 16 on CNN.