Monday’s Florida governor debate is Crist’s last chance to turn around race against DeSantis with a win in the Sunshine State’s vital swing state.
The GOP race in Florida has taken a new turn since Crist endorsed GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis. Crist has now publicly criticized DeSantis’ record on criminal justice, crime and immigration.
While Crist’s comments may not be enough to defeat DeSantis, they are significant enough to force a head-to-head debate between the two candidates.
Voting for the third-party candidate, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, is mandatory for all Florida voters, but the candidate is not required to appear on the Sunday broadcast.
DeSantis is also not required to attend.
Both men have said they have no plans to boycott the debate, which is scheduled for 8pm ET on NBC News.
The Associated Press asked the Republican Party to send a representative for a debate.
The campaign responded with: “While we have no plans to run a candidate in the upcoming debate, we will have a representative on hand to discuss the debate and answer any questions that may arise throughout the evening.
“It will also be the official start of campaign operations for both Candidates and we are going to make the official declaration in support of both tonight.
“At this time there are no plans to run a third-party candidate in this election.”
Crist’s public remarks in Florida come as he has fought back against criticism of the immigration program he supported in Congress to bring undocumented immigrants to the United States.
He has criticized the program with an ad that began airing last week. He has also faced criticism for supporting the program in the lead-up to the most recent mid-term elections.
Last November, Crist was among 11 Republicans who voted against a bill that would have ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He was among the House members who voted against the legislation because he thought it would encourage more illegal immigration.
His comments in recent days,