ATTORNEY GENERAL DEBATE GETS PUNCHY by Roxanne Escobales

10/30/06

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According to an October 28th poll by the St Petersburg Times, Democrat Skip Campbell leads Republican Bill McCollum by five points in the race to become Florida’s next attorney general. Until then, the widely known McCollum led the polls. Today in a taped-for-TV debate at the WEDU studios in Tampa, McCollum came out fighting to win back support. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports.

Bill McCollum’s gloves came off as he attacked Campbell for misrepresentation. Armed with new revelations from the St Petersburg Times, McCollum questioned Campbell’s trustworthiness

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Skip Campbell parried McCollum’s thrust with an appropriate level of indignation.

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McCollum followed a similar, aggressive style throughout the half-hour debate, laying into Campbell more than discussing his own position. He frequently attacked Campbell’s support of what’s known as the scarlet letter bill. That would require women to publish their past sex partners before being allowed to adopt. Mc Collum called it “obnoxious� on two different occasions.

The moderator, WMNF’s Rob Lorei, asked McCollum, who is a lobbyist, if his past work representing clients such as Verizon and drugs giant Astra Zeneca would affect his ability to act as a champion for the consumer, which is one of the repsonsiblities of the attorney general. McCollum answered:

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But Skip Campbell landed his own blows on McCollum during his closing statement.

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The state’s attorney general sits on the cabinet and is charged with representing the state with court appeals and challenges as well as anti-trust and consumer protection cases. It’s a role often billed as being Florida’s “top cop�.

Skip Campbell on his interpretation of what it means to be attorney general.

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True to style, Bill McCollum took a harder line.

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When it comes to protecting the consumer, Campbell is against tort reform and limiting lawsuits against businesses.

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Former lobbyist McCollum is in favour of tort reform and said Florida’s courts play host to too many lawsuits.

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The two lawyers also disagreed about the automatic restoration of civil rights to felons, with Campbell for it, McCollum against it.

Many viewed last week’s gubernatorial debate as more shadow boxing then 15 rounds of heavyweight punches. But in the attorney general’s debate McCollum advanced with short, sharp jabs at Campbell.

For WMNF Evening News at the WEDU studios in Tampa, I’m Roxanne Escobales.

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