(CNN) – The two candidates for Florida governor came out swinging in their final debate, which was co-sponsored by CNN, the St. Petersburg Times and the University of South Florida.
Accusations from both sides flew fast and early in the debate, moderated by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, as both candidates immediately began leveling their now-familiar lines of attack in one of the most hotly contested races in the country.
Republican Rick Scott, a billionaire health care executive who's primary win surprised many in his party, immediately attempted to tie his opponent, Democrat Alex Sink, to President Obama's policies.
"The stimulus is a disaster. I think 'Obamacare' is going to be horrible for patients. It's going to be horrible for taxpayers. It's probably the biggest job killer ever.
I think his just - you know his belief that big government works, it doesn't. It's killing jobs. And my opponent that's - that's what she believes in," Scott said.
Sink, the state's chief financial officer, meanwhile repeatedly accused Scott of lying and "reinventing history."
"Every time you put that Obama liberal label on me, you just don't know what you're talking about. I have always been a fiscal conservative. "
The debate also turned hostile at times. After the first commercial break, Scott accused Sink of breaking the agreed upon rules for the debate.
Before answering a question directed to him, Scott said, "on the rules, our campaign staffers aren't supposed to give us notes, and during the break you got one on an iPad, an iPod."
Sink did not respond to the accusation but cameras captured the candidate being presented with a cellphone during the previous break. And a CNN debate official confiscated an Android smartphone.
Both candidates also leveled charges that the other had engaged in fraud during previous careers – allegations that have dogged both candidates throughout the campaign.
Scott accused Sink, the former president of Nations Bank, of supervising employees who used deceptive sales practices to direct senior citizens into high-risk investments in exchange for kickbacks. The bank was fined $6.7 million for its deceptive practices.
But Sink defended her tenure as president. "That case, the lawyer that brought that case - it was a class action case against another company – he even has said publicly that Alex Sink had nothing to do with the case, had nothing to do with the situation and didn't know about the problems. What more can I say?"
Scott also deflected questions about his controversial tenure as CEO of the hospital chain Columbia/HCA. Under Scott's stewardship, the company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud.
But when asked why he refuses to release a transcript of a deposition he gave regarding the case, Scott retorted, "It was settled. It has nothing to do with running for governor. Has nothing to do with anything that we were doing. Look, this race is about one issue. This race is about jobs."
Sink also tried to turn the discussion to job creation, although the two again clashed on the specifics.
"You've got to reduce regulation, you got to reduce the size of government, you've got to focus on the size of government. You got to reduce taxes," Scott said. "Charlie Crist and my opponent did none of those things. All they did is grow the size of government and is killing jobs. It's killing jobs."
Sink hit back, "Let me clarify who has been in charge in Tallahassee. It's been one party, Rick Scott's party. It's been Tallahassee insiders who are now supporting his campaign for governor. So, it's been the governor and a Republican-controlled legislator," she said.
Though neither candidate had any major gaffes in the hour-long debate, both were stumped when asked what Florida's minimum wage is.
When asked by the St. Petersburg Times' political editor Adam C. Smith, Scott confidently replied "$7.55."
Smith then turned to Sink, asking "Ms. Sink is that right?"
Sink replied, "Mm-hmm. Yes."
Florida's minimum wage is $7.25, which corresponds directly to the federal minimum wage of the same amount.
In the most recent CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll, Scott and Sink were locked in a near tie among likely voters.
I am very disappointed in John King's behavior toward Alex Sink during the debate format. He let Scott go on wild lengthy diatribes against Sink, and then did not give Sink any opportunity to respond to Scott's lies. What's wrong with you John King to behave in such an unfair and biased way? Cut it out!
I think I knew more than both of them about politics, when I was in highschool.
God knows how many patients Scott killed. That he is not is jail is a disgrace. He should be under a rock not running for office.
think if it, he paid a BILLION dollar fine.
The prospect of Rick Scott for Governor of Florida is truly frightening. He belongs in jail. How can the company he ran pay fines for Medicaid fraud of over $17.5 bil and he run around Scott free? And this guy is all the Republicsns can come up with to run? Btw, has anyone noticed how few Rick Scott lawn signs there are out there? Even die hard Republicans are too embarrassed to put them up!
You see they don't even know the minimum wage for the state and they want to run it. Florida needs a governor that really cares.
"Near-tie." Doesn't say which is ahead – must be the Republican.
"...neither candidate had any major gaffes...." Really? Smuggling a phone w/message into the debate isn't major enough?
Guess I'll have to tune in Radio Free Europe on my hidden shortwave in the middle of the night to find out what really happened.
This election is simple. If you support more and more government control over your life, vote Democratic. If you value less government, individual responsibility and freedom, vote Republican.
Any person who is guilty of Medicare fraud should not be running for elected office. Does this take gall or what? Ms. Sink should have hammered him relentlesslly on this and so should the DNC.
I don't think the CEO of a company fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud should be criticizing healthcare reform. Shame on you Mr. Scott!
John King is a closet GOP lapdog, he might as well be working for False Noise Network.
So basically the question i'll be asking myself before voting is..do i want to vote for the terrible choice or the horrible choice..hmm. Ugh they both sounds like idiots all they care about is getting a bigger paycheck which neither of them need. what are they going to do with billions of dollars theyll make as governor? buy another aston martin or maybe a new million dollar house on a remote island. Meanwhile single moms like myself are living paycheck to paycheck and im supposed to be convinced to go vote for you? so you get more money and i get what? an "I VOTED" sticker? gee thanks for the offer guys but ill pass. yeah its about jobs and money alright. YOUR jobs and money. wth is this country coming to. not one im proud to say im from.
Rick Scott has been buying his way into political office. Nobody except him is crazy enough to spend 80 million dollars of his own money to get elected. The catch is that he has been scheming to defraud Medicare since 1987. He was forced to resign from Columbia/HCA because of this. He pushed people to either work excessive hours or watch to many patients at his hospitals or make money when they couldn't make it legally. They had to do something or get fired. His company stole over 5 billion dollars from Medicare via fraud. He had people writing off public relations and marketing as expenses for Medicare to pay. Laws need to change so TV ads are limited and free elections can return. Otherwise we have no Democracy we are the slaves working for the White Supremacy...
One thing about Florida it doesn't disappoint. I haven't laughed so hard in my life watching the three Senator contenders and the two Governor candidates. They talk about Chicago, Florida must have taken lessons, I'd be quaking in my boots if I had to vote in that state.
have to say I thought this was a uncontrolled mess – shame there was no contol or failure of questions to enlighten the citizens of this state on the canidates - sure enhanced appreciation of FL senate debate by CNN on Sunday -
Oh, brother, I voted for Ms. Sink early, but I'm not a big fan of Mr. Scott. But my mom doesn't like them. She rathers to vote someone else. I hate to agree with my mom. The candidates for any positons really turn the voters off. Mr. Evil Karl Rove influences GOPers very badly. He turns me off. So I do not think GOPers will win on Nov.2nd. D O O M for them. I hope.
This nonsense of the cell phones, make your rules effective by saying no one involved in the debate, staff or candidates may hold cell phones ipods Iphones or similar devices. They must be given to CNN staff.. there is nothing that cannot wait for the duration of a 1 hour debate, they do have staff and managers to make initial decisions at least.
scot and the republica party have no new agenda, just same old same old from Bush. they are the party of no, out there to disturb the democrats.
They are both what America and Florida don't need. They are both rich and crooked. Vote for anyone else!
John King did a terrible job.
I thought the coverage of the Sink/Scott debate for Governor of Florida was poorly managed by John King. If times were given for presentation and then comment, the times should have been enforced. It was clear throughout the debate they were not. Forgetting to give a 30 second rebuttal, not holding candidates to the several minute presenting time....all contributed to a poorly faciliated debate. In the end, how much air-time did each candidate actually get? I bet Mr Scott won that one
Her hero has to have a teleprompter so I guess she was simply following his lead!
So Sink cheated during the debate and got caught. She's a Elite Liberal of course she cheated she doesn't believe rules apply to her. Look at Rangel and Watters they don't believe rules apply to them either. Liberals lack morals and values. It shouldn't surprise anyone she cheated.
I trust dems more than republicans. They are taking advantage of the recession their Bush created.
What?! You mean the only time the politicians directly answered a question, they got it wrong and didn't actually know what they were talking about? I'm shocked and alarmed!!!!!!
Dems need to debate more aggresively it seem to me Alex missed alot of opening that she could have attacked Scott