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'Front-runner' Scott wants to debate McCollum

Two days after surging to a double-digit lead in a new poll, Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott wants to debate his opponent, Attorney General Bill McCollum, four times before the Aug. 24 election.

Scott's campaign released a letter to McCollum dated Friday. It reads: "I have been criticized by you and the media for not playing by the political insider 'rules' on how to wage a campaign in Florida. I wear that criticism as a badge of honor. And despite your constant negative campaigning against me, as the recent polling has shown, Florida voters are clearly responding to my ideas on how to turn my state around, rebuild our economy, create jobs and fix our state's budget.

"So today I'm going to break two more insider 'rules' and do something frontrunners NEVER do -- challenge their opponents to debate AND challenge them to MORE debates than in the last like election. I hereby challenge you to four statewide debates leading up to primary day. I think the voters deserve to hear both of us talk unfiltered about our ideas on how to turn Florida around."

"We look forward to debating him in advance of the primary," said McCollum spokeswoman Kristy Campbell, who said the campaign had not yet seen Scott's letter.

-- Steve Bousquet