GOP Senate debate organizers seek to avoid ‘bash-my-fellow-candidate’ eventby George Bennett | February 9th, 2012
It’ll be more of a candidate forum than a back-and-forth debate this month when the Florida Federation of Republican Women hosts the first meeting of Republican U.S. Senate candidates since Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral, got into the race.
Mack, former appointed Sen. George LeMieux and businessman Mike McCalister are scheduled to participate in the Feb. 19 event in Tallahassee. The three are vying to run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November.
Candidates will appear together and make brief opening statements, then appear individually for 15 to 20 minutes apiece to answer questions from the audience and a moderator, said Federation 3rd VP Kim Carroll. While one candidate is answering questions, the others will be offstage and won’t hear the exchange with the audience, Caroll said. The candidates will then appear together at the end for a brief wrap-up.
“We don’t want to set it up so it’s a bash-my-fellow-candidate debate,” said Carroll, who said debates with all the candidates on stage together tend to devolve into “name-calling sessions” that distract from the issues.