Presidential debate in St. Pete on Sept. 17

07/20/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Tthe Republican Party of Florida will partner with CNN and YouTube to host a GOP presidential debate on Sept. 17 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

This announcement was made this afternoon at the Mahaffey.

Gov. Charlie Crist suggested that the reason why the debate will be held in Florida is because the state moved its presidential primary election up to Jan. 29, becoming one of the first primaries in the nation.

Jim Greer, the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said holding an early primary makes the state essential for candidates hoping to earn their party’s nomination.

“I think Florida has always been a player in choosing the next president," Greer said. "But in the scenario that we have now where we have Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, I think candidates could potentially not come in first place in those states."

The questions posed in the debate will be chosen from videos that people have submitted to YouTube.

Sam Feist, a senior executive producer at CNN, said these are the first debates where questions will come from the voters.

Steve Grove is the Head of News and Politics at YouTube. Sixteen major-party presidential candidates have videos on YouTube, a trend Grove called a “revolution” in politics.

Earlier this week, Gov. Crist signed a death warrant for Mark Dean Schwab, who is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 15. There had been a moratorium on the death penalty in Florida since December, after the botched lethal injection of Angel Diaz.

The Supreme Court will rule in September whether Florida’s method of execution is a violation of the eighth amendment’s prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

WMNF asked Crist why he signed the warrant before the Court determined whether Florida’s system was constitutional.

“Well, what we did was set the date in October," Crist said.

He also addressed economic issues and said that property insurance and property taxes are important to voters. He thinks the January referendum to implement a super homestead exemption will pass.

Crist said he was thankful that Citizens Property Insurance exists, especially since State Farm is dropping its policyholders along the coast.

Citizens, which is run by the state, is supposed to be the insurer of last resort in Florida, but it now insures the property of more Floridians than any other insurer.

For more information:

Submit a video question to the candidates

Republican Party of Florida

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

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