After Softball Interview, Dem Senator Requests Blitzer as Debate Moderator

After being treated to a softball interview on CNN Monday afternoon, Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson invited anchor Wolf Blitzer to moderate a debate between him and his newly-announced Republican opponent, Governor Rick Scott. During the friendly exchange, Blitzer even urged Nelson to elaborate on an attack line against his GOP rival.  

“The Florida governor, Rick Scott, he announced today he’s running against you for the U.S. Senate. He’s challenging your seat. What do you see as the biggest difference for Florida voters between you and Rick Scott?,” Blitzer gently asked Nelson. The Democrat responded with this partisan jab: “I think Rick Scott will say and do anything to try to get elected.”

 

 

Blitzer followed up: “Is there one issue, though, that you clearly see a major difference?” Nelson argued in part: “Wolf, there are so many differences between the two of us....you can see health care that is denied to 800,000 Floridians but for Rick Scott refusing to expand Medicaid with the money sitting there on the shelf.”

Rather than challenge that assertion, Blitzer instead encouraged Nelson to expand on his earlier smear of the Governor: “So you’ve got a lot of differences. When you say he’ll say or do anything to get elected, be specific, tell me what you mean.”

Nelson claimed:

So, just until recently, he gets Secretary Zinke of the Interior Department to come down and say, at Governor Scott’s request, that we’re not going to drill off of the coast of Florida, when, in fact, that’s still in their rule. That’s just one example of changing over seven and a half years of him doing something else, being very friendly to the oil industry to drill off of Florida.

Wrapping up the segment, Blitzer observed: “It’s going to be quite a race. I’m looking forward to those debates the two of you are going to have for the people of Florida to make up their mind.” Nelson was eager to have the CNN host as a moderator: “Hey, Wolf, I hope you will moderate one of those debates.”

Blitzer agreed: “I’d love to moderate one of those debates. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m sure the people of Florida would look forward to it as well and get the differences, and I assume some agreements, out of there before the voters coming up in November.”

If Blitzer plans to tee up Nelson’s attacks against Scott, it’s no wonder the Democrat would love to have the anchor as a debate moderator.

Here is a transcript of the April 9 exchange:

1:48 PM ET

(...)

WOLF BLITZER: Let me get to a political question while I have you. The Florida governor, Rick Scott, he announced today he’s running against you for the U.S. Senate. He’s challenging your seat. What do you see as the biggest difference for Florida voters between you and Rick Scott?

SEN. BILL NELSON [D-FL]: I think Rick Scott will say and do anything to try to get elected. But I’ve always thought that if you just try to the right thing, the politics is gonna take care of itself.

BLITZER: Is there one issue, though, that you clearly see a major difference?

NELSON: Wolf, there are so many differences between the two of us. You can go to the beach in Florida and look out and there are no oil rigs out there. You can go to Cape Canaveral and you see a space industry that is revived and is thriving, and we’re just about to launch Americans on American rockets again. You can go and see an elderly population that their Medicare and their Social Security is protected. And then, you can see health care that is denied to 800,000 Floridians but for Rick Scott refusing to expand Medicaid with the money sitting there on the shelf. And I’ve just mentioned three subjects.

BLITZER: So you’ve got a lot of differences. When you say he’ll say or do anything to get elected, be specific, tell me what you mean.

NELSON: So, just until recently, he gets Secretary Zinke of the Interior Department to come down and say, at Governor Scott’s request, that we’re not going to drill off of the coast of Florida, when, in fact, that’s still in their rule. That’s just one example of changing over seven and a half years of him doing something else, being very friendly to the oil industry to drill off of Florida.

BLITZER: It’s going to be quite a race. I’m looking forward to those debates the two of you are going to have for the people of Florida to make up their mind. We’ve invited, by the way, Governor Scott to join us. Hopefully he’ll be able to join us later this week, hopefully as early as tomorrow.

NELSON: Hey, Wolf, I hope you will moderate one of those debates.

BLITZER: I’d love to moderate one of those debates. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m sure the people of Florida would look forward to it as well and get the differences, and I assume some agreements, out of there before the voters coming up in November. Senator Nelson, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

NELSON: Thanks, Wolf.


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