SO WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TONIGHT?
Tonight, the second and final U.S. Senate debate will be held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando between the two major party contenders, Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger, Congresswoman Katherine Harris.
You won't see a Max Linn-type situation tonight, and there is no Chris Matthews in the moderator's chair; Meet the Press host Tim Russert will do the honours. Russert is not as bombastic as his Hardball counterpart, but isn't afraid to keep the candidates in line and on the issue. That in itself, we hope, will prevent tonight's event from deteriorating into the snoozfest we witnessed last week. We should also hope that if they use a panel of journalists to ask the questions (preferrably not), they choose a trio of top tier political reporters.
One other item for the wish list: While Iraq and the economy will obviously be at the forefront of questioning, we hope that most of the queries will be related to subject that directly affect Floridians and that the winner would be likely asked to deal with in the Senate. That's not too much to ask for, eh???
And while on the subject of debates: The St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz notes that while statewide ratings are not yet available for Monday night's gubernatorial debate, it earned a 13 percent share of the audience in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market. While it doesn't sound like much, that translates to approximately 152,000 TV households tuned in. The ratings were better than what usually airs in the 7:00 - 8:00 time slot (Entertainment Tonight and Extra) on WFLA-TV 8 --- at least last Monday --- and much better than the previous debate, which aired on the state's public television stations. One other cavaet is that the numbers do not include those viewers who tuned into the debate on MSNBC, where it was broadcast to a national cable audience. Needless to say, the folks at NewsChannel 8 were quite pleased.