Media declares Bill Nelson the winner of last night’s US Senate debate

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Last night’s debate in Florida’s U.S. Senate contest contrasted the experience of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson with his GOP opponent’s undistinguished record and repeated untruthful statements.

That, at least, is what one could take away from a wide sampling of newspaper and TV coverage of the Senate debate staged last night in Davie, Florida by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.

For example, David Catanese of POLITICO wrote that Mack’s repeated claim that Nelson voted to raise taxes 150 times was – “deemed false.”

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times offered a post-debate analysis in which he found Mack, “more than once … distorted Nelson’s record.”  More specifically, Mack accused Nelson of voting to cut Medicare – a charge Nelson effectively debunked as “not true.”

And John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post noted that Mack advanced an economic plan that he said would blunt government spending. But, the Post reported, “it could also force massive cuts.”

In fact, the first independent study of Mack’s so-called “Penny Plan” has found that it would result in cuts of more than $1 trillion from Social Security, more than $210 billion from Medicare – and, nearly $3 trillion out of the nation’s defense budget.

 Those findings come from the nonpartisan research arm of Congress called the Congressional Research Service. In pushing back against the report outside the debate, Mack spokesman David James called the U.S. senator who asked for the study a “socialist.”  He was referring to Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Meantime, here’s how one of the state’s major television stations called the debate:

Bill Nelson, known as a moderate in the Senate, accused Mack of being a no-show congressman. “Why don’t you explain how you don’t show up for work?” Nelson asked Mack during their one and only debate.  “You have one of the worst voting records in Congress.  And when you do show up for work it’s even worse.”

Nelson was referring to Mack’s efforts to privatize part of Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program long term.

Perhaps the most memorable line of the debate came when Mack repeated his false claim that Nelson is a liberal who votes with President Obama 98 percent of the time.  Of course, the President doesn’t vote in Congress and the idea that Nelson is liberal has been thoroughly debunked by various media.

Quipped Nelson: “Is that the only line you have memorized?”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.