Today in St. Petersburg, the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosted a Debate between the 3 major candidates for the democratic nomination for U.S. Senate...

Betty Castor, Peter Deutsch & Alex Pinellas battled it out in a forum simulcast on Bay News 9 and WMNF....

The most recent polls show Castor leading the race overall, with Deutsch 2nd, and Pinelas far behind in 3rd place....

2 weeks ago at a similar Tiger Bay Event in Tallahassee, Penelas, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, attempted to break out of his rut by dramatically calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. Troops out of Iraq, a stance opposed by most of the Democratic Party establishment....Penelas elaborated on his position today (roll tape#1 o.q." beyond our borders")

And Penelas said it was important to have a plan to move forward on Iraq, and laid out a 4 point plan....That includes bringing the troops home, rebuilding faith and trust with America's allies in the U.N. and NATO, and extending the life of the 9/11 commission.

During the Question & Answer period, the candidates were asked if -once elected to the Senate, they would work on trying to revive the Equal Rights Amendment , which would affirm equal rights for women....That issue went down to defeat back in the late 1970's, but in the last couple of years there has been an attempt to revive....Like any such addition to the Constitution, it would require 38 state legislatures to approve such a Bill... Betty Castor said she was a co-sponsor of such a bill in the Florida legislature in 1977 (roll tape#2 o.q." ought to include it")

South Florida Congressman Peter Deutsch began his response to that question by saying that he considers himself a feminist, and has always been supported by Planned Parenthood and NARAL ....But he then took a shot at the grassroots advocacy group Emily's List, which works to get female candidates elected nationwide, and is said to be playing a large role in Castor's campaign (roll tape#3 o.q."as well")

Miami Dade County Mayor Alex Pinellas used the question to pivot on the Republican Party, and their work on trying to have a Constitutional Amendment implemented banning same sex marriage (roll tape#4 o.q."of this country" )

Betty Castor is best known state wide as the former State Education chief .... She went off on President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (roll tape#5 o.q."is an absurdity")

The issue regarding problems with the Voting in Florida has become almost a daily issue......And among the Democrats running to succeed Bob Graham, it is Peter Deutsch who has taken the issue on with the most fervor.....Deutsch joined with Filmmaker Michael Moore in a spirited discussion with the Florida Delegation at the Democratic Convention earlier this week about those problems, and called the situation "embarrassing" (roll tape#6 o.q."applause")

Outro: The Primary Election to elect a Democrat to run for U.S. Senate takes place on August 31st, 4 weeks from this coming Tuesday.

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