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Charlie Crist 'not even thinking of' debating Nan Rich

@PatriciaMazzei @amysherman1

Charlie Crist told reporters outside a Fort Lauderdale fundraiser Tuesday that he has no plans to debate former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, the other candidate vying for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"I don't," Crist said in response to a question by a Miami Herald reporter.

When pressed by another reporter, he added, "I'm not even thinking about that right now, to be honest with you.

"I am focused on doing everything I can to help the people of Florida, and this is not really a race about candidates," he said.  "This is a race about the people of our state –- about teachers, about law enforcement officers, about firefighters. People that in my opinion have not been honored the way they deserve to be honored."

His answer was in contrast to Rich, who has repeatedly said voters should hear substance from candidates.

"I'm an issues person," she told the Herald in a phone interview. "I'm a policy person. To me, to have a dialogue and a debate back-and-forth about the issues is probably the most important thing that you can do to educate voters about where the candidates stand."

Broward College and Broward Days, a legislative advocacy group, had reached out to Rich and Crist to invite them to debate in the state's bluest county. Rich told organizers she'd be open to it; Crist's camp hasn't gotten back to them.

Looks like they shouldn't hold their breath. And that would do a disservice to voters -- and not just Democratic ones. Crist is a former Republican governor-turned-independent, and many in his new party remain skeptical about his political convictions (or lack thereof).

Floridians as a whole would lose out on a substantive debate on the issues facing the country's fourth-largest state. And the eventual nominee would miss out on practice before facing Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the general election.