Editor's Note: Tune into CNN at 7 p.m. ET on October 25, when Chief National Correspondent John King, anchor of "John King USA," will host the next Florida gubernatorial debate between Alex Sink and Rick Scott.
(CNN) – Florida gubernatorial candidates Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott did not shy away from personal attacks or sharp-tongued remarks during Wednesday's debate.
Scott, a former businessman, attempted to capitalize on the election season's anti-incumbent fever when he referred to Sink, the state's chief financial officer, as a "Tallahassee insider."
Sink returned fire when she referred Scott, a billionaire health executive, as a "corporate raider," and questioned his business dealings.
But the gloves really came off when the candidates got down to business answering - and in some cases not answering - specific questions about their positions on policy and how they would govern if elected.
Scott threw a major jab when he attacked Sink's plans to deal with the state's budget problems.
"We're walking into a two-plus billion-dollar deficit," Scott said. "We know we have to save money. Obama math doesn't work here."
Sink shot back, "I don't know what Obama math is. What I do know is I was a 4.0 math major at Wake Forest University and I know how to add numbers."
Sink called Scott's charge that she planned to raise taxes a "fairytale fabrication" and accused the Republican candidate of running a smear campaign.
"Rick, we can't trust anything you say," Sink said. "You have been throwing mud and negative advertisements since the Republican primary and your charges have been outlandish."
Continuing a theme he has used throughout the campaign, Scott tied Sink's views on policy to those of President Barack Obama.
"If you believe Obama's plan is the right plan for the country, vote for my opponent," Scott said. "Obamacare is a disaster, his stimulus is a disaster, and on top of that, she believes his economic policies are the right solution. They're not."
But Scott had to defend his own positions when the panel asking questions raised the issue of Scott's stewardship of the hospital chain Columbia/HCA. During Scott's tenure, the company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.
Scott characterized the experience as a teachable moment: "In business, if something goes wrong, you focus on it, you get better at it, and that's what I've done," Scott said.
On social issues, Scott did not give a direct answer when asked if he believed homosexuality was immoral; instead, he pledged his opposition to gay marriage and gay adoption.
Sink was quick to point out Scott's evasion and state her position on gay adoption, saying that judges and social workers should decide what is in the best interest of the child.
In the most recent CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll, Scott and Sink were locked in a near tie among likely voters.
– CNN's Jill Harding contributed to this report
This nonsense name calling back and forth without talking about the issues is why we need a strong viable third party. Go Tea Party!!!
This is a no brainer, vote for the guy with real world economic experience. Vote for RICK SCOTT!
Rick may was attacked for earning money. If that is such a crime, why would democrats vote for the following rich left wing hacks: Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Clintons, Gore, Boxer, Watters, Rangel, Frankin, John Kerry, Barney Frank (whose boyfriend heckled Frank's opponent)....
Scott is the best candidate running.
you go girl. It amazes me people would even consider these wingnuts. Are they just scring these older voters or what? vote the repos out. Go forwadr not backwards. can't you see most of what they say are lies.
I really do get disappointed at how often religiously biased matters like gays, abortion, prolife, pro chioce, come up in elections, and can even end up in elected officials being kicked out of office by voters.
Gays and abortion are not going to fix this economy or provide needed jobs, or solve a whole host of other problems.
And Dear Mr Scott as far as being governor of a state is concerned I see no value in trying to Link your opponent to Mr Obama. You are not on national but local stage, what can you do for the state? Is what we all want to Know?
Past experience says you will do what Republicans did nationally Increase Florida's indebtedness. I heard nothing from you about how to fix that, or Nationally from Any republican that has practical meaning a lot of Rhetoric like cuting $100bn from government... but no where or by when!! By the way the states with the largest debt have Republican governors MMmmm!! I can see the California debt mountain from my home in NY.
Marco Rubio's huge lead and the enthusiam around his campaign will help Scott pull off the win. Democrats aren't excited because the Hopey Changey crap turned out to just that, crap.
I sorry, but Rick Scott look looks creepy. Vote Sink, aleast you can stand to look her in the face.
You don't plead the 5th 75 times if you don't have something to hide Rick Scott, but it's ok, we all know you are a crook.
Good ole scott, i got to give it to his shady ass he stick to the script. lying POS. 1.7 billion fined is a mistake lol.
Rick Scott is the lowest form of republican corruption and sleaze. The Columbia/HCA is not Rick's only problem, as he has been taking the 5th on other matters of wrongdoing. He is not very bright if he thinks Floridians do not need health reform, and to call it Obamacare, indicates he is someone gifted in deception and lies. Rick's mom call's him a " . . . good boy," but he was the one in charge of the $1.7 billion fraud in medicare. Why not take the 5th Rick, you have taken everything else?
I pitty the Floridians that vote for Scott. He is a crook with no moral standards. He's now spent over $65m of HIS OWN money to put himself in the seat of Governor. You don't think he doesn't see gold at the end of the Florida rainbow?
Come on people... wake up. Not only do we have a need for higher education in Florida, but for the entire USA. People need to research, think and remember what/who put us in this position!
I find it humorous that Alex Sink would take pot shots at Rick Scott calling him Corporate raider while she oversaw Bank Americas lending practices reportedly raking in around 6 million dollars of undisclosed personal profit. Did not Bank America practice and make predatory home loans to people that did not qualify for those loans and did not Bank America issue credit cards with exorbitant interest rates under the same predatory practices. Florida needs someone to go into our State Government with a hatchet and cut the burdensome bureaucracy and waste, the FRS pension plans and over compensatory pay for non-commerce creating jobs has killed our State. Charlie Crist promised to do this if elected and failed to act, now Rick Scott must carry forth and I believe he will and that is why he has my vote!