TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a major break with tradition, Ron DeSantis is refusing to debate Andrew Gillum.
Three days ago, Gillum challenged DeSantis to three general election debates — including one hosted by Leadership Florida and Univision 23. Yesterday afternoon, Gillum renewed that challenge and committed to a third town hall debate hosted by CNN.
DeSantis has refused to accept even one of those debates. It’s a stunning break with past cycles and comes at a time when the DeSantis campaign is taking a nasty, desperate turn.
Yesterday, The Tampa Bay Timesreported that during a campaign stop, DeSantis “jumped head-long into the realm of the absurd with some of his attacks on Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.” DeSantis’ “absurd” attacks on Gillum come as the Republican nominee has struggled to answer questions about his attendance at racist conferences hosted by right-wing extremist David Horowitz — and refused to denounce Donald Trump’s vile attacks on the Puerto Rican community.
Three weeks into the general election, DeSantis is also facing criticism for failing to articulate a policy agenda. WPLG’s Michael Putney noted yesterday that “he hasn’t really said anything about anything else [other than the environment]… health care, immigration, anything that we know of.” The Orlando Sentinel reported that DeSantis “hasn’t yet unveiled a detailed health care plan” — despite it being one of voters’ top concerns. DeSantis was also forced to cancel an interview with The Tampa Bay Times about his policy agenda because he needed “time to flesh out his platform before taking questions.”