On Tuesday morning, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC engaged in a comical and hopeless rescue mission to convince viewers that turncoat and Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) has a chance to retake Florida’s governorship against incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis (R) thanks to a “heated” debate in which Crist attacked the “firebrand” DeSantis over his “controversial policies” and possible 2024 bid for president.
ABC’s Good Morning America was most enthusiastic about Crist. Co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos boasted in a tease: “Florida face-off. Overnight, Governor Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist in their only debate in the race for governor. The economy and abortion take center stage with polls in the Sunshine State open.”
After Stephanopoulos said at the onset of the segment that it was “an explosive debate,” chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega insisted DeSantis has “a commanding lead in the polls,” but nonetheless tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
“[B]ut in that debate last night, his opponent Charlie Crist really tried to shine a spotlight on some of the governor’s more controversial policies, including the fact he could be gearing up for a White House run in the not too distant future. The only debate in the heated race and the candidates came out swinging,” she explained.
Vega added the debate featured “heated issues driving voters to the polls” with “DeSantis hitting hard on the economy” with Crist fixating on Florida’s 15-week abortion ban.
She continued to fixate on liberal priorities, gripping about DeSantis’s flight of illegal aliens to Massachusetts and whether DeSantis would serve his full term. On the latter, Vega admirably played the sound of debate moderator Liz Quirantes reminding Crist he broke debate rules when pressing DeSantis on 2024 (click “expand”):
VEGA: Also on full display, DeSantis’s controversial move to use Florida taxpayer dollars to fly migrants from the Texas border to Martha's Vineyard.
CRIST: I thought it was a horrible, political stunt.
DESANTIS: It’s sad that it comes to this, but what we did was put this issue front and center.
VEGA: And while Joe Biden is not on the ballot here, DeSantis repeatedly tried to turn it into a referendum on his presidency, invoking Biden's name some ten times in an hour. Crist firing back, accusing DeSantis of looking well beyond next month’s midterms and to 2024, a charge DeSantis refused to answer.
CRIST: Why don't you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them, if you're re-elected you will serve a full four-year term as governor. Yes or no? [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] Yes or no, Ron? Will you serve a full four-year term if you're re-elected governor of Florida? It's not a tough question. It's a fair question. He won't tell you.
LISA QUIRANTES: We did not agree on the candidates asking each other questions.
DESANTIS: Is it my time?
QUIRANTES: Governor, it's your turn.
DESANTIS: Well, listen, I know that Charlie is interested in talking about 2024 and Joe Biden, but I want to make things very, very clear, the only worn out, old donkey I'm looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.
Vega wrapped by insisting that was “the moment...of that debate” and then hailing Biden’s upcoming rally in Florida as proof Democrats are “laser focused” on defeating DeSantis.
CBS Mornings had an extended news brief on the foray. Co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King lamented in the “Eye Opener” that DeSantis was “running for a second term, but refusing to say if he'll run for president.”
Co-host Nate Burleson boasted of “fireworks” in which “DeSantis sparred with...Crist on issues like inflation, immigration, and the state’s response to Hurricane Ian.”
Again doing Crist’s bidding, Burleson made the only soundbite about Crist’s desperate focus on 2024 and praised it as “heated.”
Over on NBC’s Today, Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson consolidated Florida into a broader 2022 segment. After setting the stage for Tuesday’s Pennsylvania senatorial debate, Jackson noted that one took place Monday “where the firebrand Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is widely speculated to be looking past November to 2024 and a possible White House run.”
Making it three for three in simping for liberals, Jackson’s only Florida soundbite was on Crist’s question about 2024.
Tuesday’s pointless endeavor was made possible thanks to advertisers such as Ashley Homestore (on CBS), Home Depot (on NBC), and IHOP (on ABC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the relevant transcripts from October 25, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).