CNN’s Jake Tapper says he will try to keep candidates on point at tonight’s debate

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I am going to do my job, says CNN’s Jake Tapper, as moderator of tonight’s final debate between incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.

Well … maybe not in so many words.

Tapper hopes to “knock them off their talking points” writes William March in the Tampa Tribune, politely and respectfully, using the candidates’ direct answers to guide the questioning.

Among the issues will be topics not yet covered in the previous debates, Tapper says, which means that education funding and the environment will not feature as prominently, although he was not specific as to what questions he will ask.

Some later-breaking stories in the campaign yet to be addressed – and could crop up tonight — include disclosures of Scott’s personal finances, accusations of using personal email accounts to conduct state business, as well as Crist’s former financial backers who have been accused of corruption, and whether Scott intends to self-fund his campaign through Nov. 4.

March writes that Tapper’s goal will be “to bring up some issues that have not been discussed at length and also to try to get some more specific answers that they have dutifully recited their talking points on but haven’t necessarily explained their actions or motivations.”

Tapper is familiar with Scott’s tendency to refuse answer direct many questions, and acknowledges that both Scott and Crist are “both pretty good at talking about what they want to talk about and ignoring the question at hand.”

The debate will come from Jacksonville’s WJXT, and televised live at 7 p.m.

Boosting interest in tonight’s event is #Fangate, the controversy surrounding the second debate, where Scott failed to take the stage for seven minutes because a small electric fan under Crist’s podium. CNN is attempting to prohibit Crist from using a fan, something he traditionally uses to keep cool during public speaking events.

This debate will have no access by the press or the public and will only be available on television. Tapper told March that he is “not happy” that the public is not invited. CNN attempted to accommodate the press corps, but Tapper said that there was just no way to make it work.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.