Florida Governor Race Debate

by Carol Lim

Democrat Charlie Crist and Republican Rick Scott went right on attacking each other in their third and last debate in the governor’s race two weeks before the Nov. 4th Election.  CNN and WJXT-TV hosted the debate in Jacksonville, Florida last night.

For most of the hour-long debate, the attacks were personal while the candidates tried to state their positions on Florida’s economy,  the minimum wage, the death penalty, Ebola and other topics.

CNN’s Jack Tapper and WJXT’s Kent Justice moderated the debate.

Scott, running for re-election, blamed Crist for more than 800,000 jobs lost while Crist was governor from 2007-2011. Scott said Crist grew up with wealth and is out of touch.

“I grew up with families that struggled….I lived in public housing. I didn’t grow up with money. You did, ” said Scott.

Crist fired back with not being responsible for the national “economic meltdown” during his term as governor. Crist said Scott was the one who is out of touch. Crist punched back later in the debate that his father worked as a newspaper delivery person, while in medical school to support his family.

“You don’t know me and you can’t tell my story,” Crist said. “But I know you are worth about $100 million or $200 million today.  God bless you for that wealth, but the way you got it was pretty unsavory.”

Both candidates also attacked each other over Crist’s former political supporters and advisors connected with alleged ponzy schemes and fraud, Duke Energy and Scott’s company, Columbia/HCA, being fined $1.7 billion for alleged Medicare fraud in the past.

Crist said he is for raising the minimum wage to $10.10, even if companies have to lay off people. Crist said he wants to support small businesses already in Florida.  Crist also said he is for giving women the right to choose and ending the embargo on Cuba.

Scott didn’t say what the minimum wage should be.

“How would I know….I mean, the private sector sets the wages,” Scott said.

When asked why Scott has not reached his jobs goal, Scott acknowledged it.

“We’ve added 640,000 jobs and unemployment is down…So we’re on a roll,” Scott said.

Scott said raising the minimum wage would cut jobs. Scott also said he wants to attract more outside companies to Florida. Scott supports Sen. Marco Rubio’s plan to give undocumented workers a path to U.S. citizenship, but also wants to look at the overall package first before committing. Scott said the Castro brothers are terrorists and wants the embargo on Cuba to stay.

Both candidates support the death penalty.

Crist said he supports medical marijuana. Scott said he wants state lawmakers to review the issue again to make sure medical marijuana is safe for the public.

On Florida’s readiness on Ebola, Scott said he feels more comfortable after the Centers of Disease and the federal government responded to his requests for more training of Florida’s healthcare workers and for over $7 million in federal money to be redirected so that the state can buy more high-level personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and Ebola preparedness supplies.

Crist rated the Obama administration an 8 for its handling of Ebola cases in the United States.

“I want to work for everyone in Florida so everyone can have a fair chance,” said Crist.

“I want better jobs for Florida. Florida is the best melting pot,” said Scott.

After the debate, Scott and Crist shook hands.




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