Tim Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell told the Miami Herald today that Canova won't participate in a debate with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Sunday morning.
On Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz announced that she agreed to a debate on CBS4's Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede, a half-hour show at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Wasserman Schultz is still expected to appear and CBS4 plans to leave a chair available for Canova.
"I look forward to a thoughtful conversation and robust debate that addresses the issues important to the people of Florida’s 23rd Congressional district," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Wednesday.
Canova had sought debates with Wasserman Schultz for months and bashed her in a TV ad for not agreeing to a debate. Both candidates have previously appeared on Facing South Florida: Wasserman Schultz was interviewed by DeFede in April and on Sunday Canova was interviewed by CBS4's Eliott Rodriguez. When Rodriguez said it would be great to have Canova debate Wasserman Schultz on the show, Canova replied: "I would love that. I hope so."
Canova recently called for three two-hour debates -- something that is more common for presidential or statewide debates than a Congressional district debate.
But now by refusing to debate on DeFede's show, Canova is missing his only chance so far to a debate before the Aug. 30 primary. He is skipping an opportunity to face his opponent and undergo questioning by DeFede, a top-notch investigative reporter who would have posed serious questions to both candidates. Meanwhile, voters are already casting ballots by mail -- so far 7,363 Democrats have voted in the Broward side of the district which represents the bulk of the voters.
Canova issued a statement today criticizing Wasserman Schultz. He says the debate would be 15-minutes but the show is 30 minutes although that includes commercials.
"After four months of dodging debates and running scared, Wasserman Schultz now wants to schedule a 15 minute debate? If she believes one 15 minute debate is sufficient to defend her record, it shows she's learned nothing from her failures in scheduling debates at the DNC before her shameful resignation. In April, I proposed a series of real debates, and that's still my hope, that the voters will get the benefit of hearing us discuss the issues in more than one debate of at least two-hours each to cover a wide range of issues of importance to all of us.”
“When I first heard this news,” said Canova, “I thought it was a joke. But actually it’s quite a disgrace and shows the arrogance of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and once again her contempt for democracy. The people of South Florida deserve better than a representative showing up for 15 minutes to defend her record."