Joe Henderson: Winner in Florida U.S. Senate debate? Status quo in runaway

Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Let us sum up the essence of the Florida U.S. Senate debate Tuesday between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott for the seat Nelson currently holds:

Blah, blah, and furthermore, blah.

Nelson believes Scott is a lying slimeball whose policies have savaged public education, health care, and the environment. We already knew that.

Scott believes Nelson is a do-nothing, accomplish-nothing political hack who exists to raise taxes because it’s fun to do so. Yep, knew that too.

OK, Florida … choose your candidate.

Did anyone learn anything about the hour Nelson and Scott spent telling a statewide Telemundo audience that the other is a horrible person and electing them would mean the end of life as we know it?

I doubt it.

Neither man is an orator of great renown.

Neither man has what anyone would call a charismatic personality.

Both men have been around long enough that we know where they’re coming from, so let’s cut the bull, shall we?

Scott is running on his record of job creation after two terms as Florida’s Governor. He is also running a campaign that shifts the blame for all the problems that environmental problems that cropped up during his reign (see Tide, Red) on Nelson because Washington didn’t act to keep dead fish from populating Florida’s shores.

After absorbing Scott’s attacks that blamed him for everything wrong on Planet Earth, perhaps even including the Tampa Bay Bucs 48-10 loss at Chicago, Nelson whipped out the white glove and said, “We would call that a whopper because it’s totally disjointed from the truth.”

Ouch. That hurts.

Do you bite your thumb, sir?

In this political climate though, the truth is whatever anyone chooses to believe, so what I would sum it up like this:

Status quo was the runaway winner in this debate.

If you liked what Scott has done for this state, you probably think he won.

If you think Nelson deserves a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, nothing happened Tuesday to change your mind.

It was boring.

It was safe.

It was repetitive.

It lacked substance.

I doubt this debate got anyone excited.

This was nothing but Talking Points 2.0.

Scott has been following an effective strategy throughout the campaign of attacking his opponent while not exactly saying what he would do if elected, other than his “promise” to go to “give ‘em hell” in Washington.

Yeah, like a freshman Senator, just one in a body of 100, would do anything except say, “How would you like me to vote on this, Sen. Mitch McConnell?”

But the reverse is true as well. Democrats are desperate for Nelson to hold on to his seat because they need every vote against President Trump, especially if Republicans continue to control the Senate after the midterms. Nelson won’t be that mythological “independent’ voice in Washington. He will be what he has been — reliably Democratic.

So, all of this back and forth is nothing but “R” versus “D” repetitive drivel.

This debate was characterized by many as nasty.

Shoot, folks … it was already nasty. It has been nasty for a long time.

We already know what they’re going to say. We knew it before either Scott or Nelson said it. Whichever man you like you like now, you will like in November. Nothing happened in this debate to change that.

The strong likelihood is that nothing is going to change, either.

They are what they are.

And what they are won’t excite anyone to do anything but what they were already going to do: vote against the other guy.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


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