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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, Meek, Crist have combative televised debate



Times political editor Adam C. Smith reports on today's U.S. Senate debate in Tampa:

Republican U.S. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio may be leading Charlie Crist by double digits but he didn’t pull his punches as he ripped the governor as a phoney opportunist in a combative televised debate Friday.

“This notion, governor, that you switched to become an independent because you’re some kind of a centrist who’s looking out for the betterment of our country quite frankly is a fairy tale that only you believe,’’ Rubio said after nonpartisan Crist promised to put Floridians ahead of party politics. “You’re running as an independent not because you took a principled stand on issues; You’re running as an independent because you took a poll.”

Crist in turn cast former House Speaker Rubio as a political insider who can’t be trusted.

“When he was Speaker of the house he steered millions of dollars to a university and to a hospital, and after he left public office he got two jobs — not one, but two jobs — at $165,000 a year. The last guy who did that as a speaker is now indicted and facing trial,’’ the governor said. “I mean it’s unconscionable.”

The dynamic in a three-way debate with Crist, Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek is much different from a traditional two-person faceoff, and on Friday each candidate over and over again claimed to be “the only candidate,’’ who will do this or that. The WTVT-Fox 13 Tampa debate moderated by anchor John Wilson was the third of six.

Read the full story here.

[Last modified: Friday, October 15, 2010 6:20pm]


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