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Nelson says he'll debate Scott, with a moderator who 'can stay on it'

Sen. Bill Nelson says it's "silly" for Gov. Rick Scott to be taunting him for not yet committing to specific debates in their U.S. Senate race.

For two months, Scott's campaign has repeatedly tweeted criticism of the Democrat, using a daily calendar to poke at Nelson's refusal to make debate commitments.

Nelson addressed the issue in detail for the first time Tuesday while he was in Tallahassee for an event honoring a prominent World War II veteran.

"Obviously, it's to my  advantage to debate him," Nelson said of Scott. "But I'm going to wait until after the primary, because of what he'll do is, he'll throw up a bunch of debates and then he'll start backing out of them."

"We will accept debates in a format where there's a real substantive discussion," Nelson added.

Nelson said a CNN-sponsored debate is an obvious choice with a moderator such as Jake Tapper or Wolf Blitzer. "That would be good," he said, adding that a debate sponsored by Telemundo or Univision also makes sense.

"As long as you have a moderator that can stay on it and make him follow up and answer the questions, because as you know all too well, he tries to sidestep any question," Nelson said.

In his first U.S. Senate race in 2000, Nelson was the aggressor in a televised debate in Delray Beach, forcing his Republican opponent, Bill McCollum, to defend his votes in Congress on gun control and Medicare. McCollum in turn accused Nelson, then the elected state insurance commissioner, of forcing higher insurance rates on consumers.

Scott has agreed to three debates sponsored by CNN, Telemundo and WJXT-Channel 4 in Jacksonville.

Nelson attended a ceremony at Tallahassee's VA Health Care Center, which was renamed in honor of Sgt. Ernest "Boots" Thomas of nearby Monticello, who was killed during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.