Nelson Adviser Hits Scott for Absence on Campaign Trail Amid Hurricane Recovery

Sen. Bill Nelson / Getty Images

Sen. Bill Nelson's (D., Fla.) former spokesman and current adviser Dan McLaughlin criticized Gov. Rick Scott (R., Fla.) for being absent on the campaign trail and "hid[ing] from voters" while attending to the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.

"We’re not going to let Rick Scott hide from voters in the last three weeks of a major election — especially while he’s significantly increasing his negative TV attack ads," McLaughlin said, as reported by Florida Politics.

Nelson is in the midst of a close reelection battle against Scott. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has Nelson with a 2 point lead.

Scott has left the campaign trail to manage the recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida panhandle. The death toll from the hurricane has risen to 20 and is expected to continue to rise.

With the governor no longer hitting the campaign trail, his wife Ann Scott has taken his place as a surrogate. McLaughlin described this a "cynical" ploy to avoid voters and protesters. He said Scott "can’t campaign around the state without protesters; he can’t risk having to answer people’s questions directly; he can’t campaign across a state that’s plagued with red tide and green algae; he can’t campaign and answer questions on how he’s enriched himself in public office."

There was a CNN sponsored debate scheduled for Oct. 16, but in the wake of the hurricane, Scott requested to postpone it until later in the month. CNN proposed Oct. 25 as a new date.

"We have accepted CNN’s proposal of a 10/25 debate. We hope Sen. Nelson joins us," Scott's campaign said in a statement.

Nelson's campaign disliked pushing the debate that far back, however, calling it "very late in the election."

Nelson sent out an email last week encouraging people to donate money for hurricane victims with a list of nonprofit groups that provide aid. The senator failed to disclose the provided link for each group directed users to the website for ActBlue, a group that helps Democrats fundraise and saves donor information for future campaign fundraising efforts.