DeSantis 'hell bent' on debating Gillum in Florida governor race

Former Florida Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGOP tentatively decides on Jacksonville for site of convention DeSantis pushing to host Republican National Convention in Florida Florida bars and theaters to reopen starting Friday, DeSantis says MORE (R) is “hell bent” on debating his gubernatorial opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), he says in a new interview.

DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times that he “probably” will seek to add debates to Gillum’s request for three contests between the two, adding that Gillum’s surprise primary win is a driving factor.

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“I definitely want to do debates. It’s very, very important, particularly for a candidate like Andrew who nobody thought could win the primary. He did not face scrutiny of his record. He didn’t face a single dollar in negative advertising, I don’t think,” DeSantis said, according to the Times, adding that he is “hell bent” to face Gillum.

“I had $17 million [in negative advertising during the GOP primary] between U.S. Sugar and [Adam] Putnam. So I think it’s very important that Floridians have a clear sense of our visions for Florida, our leadership,” he adds.

The Times, however, notes that only Gillum’s campaign officially accepted requests to two debates but no information was available on whether DeSantis had officially accepted any invitations. DeSantis’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

“Mayor Gillum looks forward to sharing his vision for Florida that lifts people up, with higher wages, more money for schools, and affordable health care. We hope that Congressman DeSantis will join us, though it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to answer a single question about his non-existent campaign platform,” a spokesman told the Times.

Gillum’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

But Kevin Donohoe, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, said in an email that DeSantis was dodging requests for debates.

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“Ron DeSantis has no platform, no policies, and no working knowledge of state issues. Ron DeSantis is afraid of debating Andrew Gillum because he has no solutions to the challenges facing Florida. DeSantis has no idea about why he wants to be governor — and that’s why he is desperately trying to avoid engaging in a substantive discussion of the issues with Andrew Gillum,” he said.

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