(CNN) - It was 'Three's Company' in the final Florida Senate debate as Republican candidate Marco Rubio, Democratic candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek and independent candidate, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, met in Orlando one week before the election.
The dominant issues in the debate, which was moderated by NBC Meet the Press anchor David Gregory, were the housing crisis and a rousing conversation about the future of Social Security.
On the collapse of the housing market, the candidates attacked the shady lending practices and lack of oversight which they said led to the housing bubble.
Rubio blamed policies which made it "cheaper to get ahold of bad loans," and derided temporary mortgage modification programs which he said have not worked. Meek advocated for more accountability, especially for mortgage lenders and loan officers in charge of modifications. Crist spoke of the need to "reduce the tax burden," and touted the success of programs such as the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit.
There were no definitive answers to the question of how to fix the Social Security program. The candidates quibbled over whether to raise the retirement age– something Rubio has said might be an option but Crist and Meek both oppose– a pertinent issue in a state where a large percentage of the population relies on Social Security as their primary source of income.
"We can't move the goal posts for those who are planning on retirement when it comes to social security." Meek said of the suggestion. Crist agreed that he would not look to raising the retirement age, and talked about his platform to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who would eventually pay into the system.
Rubio attacked Crist's platform and defended his own position saying, "We should make no changes to the program for current beneficiaries."
As they have throughout the campaign season, Rubio and Crist spent several minutes squabbling over Crist's decision to run as an independent. Crist fought hard to defend his switch from Republican to independent as something other than political expediency.
He said of his opponents, "They're rigid they have to stay where they are because the party bosses tell them to." "I am liberated, I am free."
Rubio shot back at one point "He switched cause he couldn't win the primary."
Meek stayed above the fray for much of the debate, touting his Democratic voting record and criticizing the Bush administration. But Meek sniped during Crist's answer regarding his decision to change his position on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
"When I hear flip flops in the hallway I think it's the governor walking down the hall," Meek said.
The candidates were conservative in their answers to a question regarding the timeline for troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. Meek said that if the deadline to withdraw troops by July of 2011 was not met, the United States "should challenge the world community to put in their resources," to help. Rubio said that while he supported the president's surge strategy, he did not agree with an open ended timeline.
In a recent CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll of likely voters, 46 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Rubio, while 32 percent said they would vote for Crist and 20 percent would support Meek. The survey had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Meek seems to be the only sane one of this trio. rubio looks like a little boy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
sounds like Meek is the way to go. The other two sound like spirited idiots . Vote the repos out in November Vote democratic
Republicans should be happy Crist turned independent-it was the only way to ensure Meek would not have won. Had Crist not been so pathetic and just accepted the fact he was going to lose the people of Florida would have had a democratic senator as it is highly likely Meek would have won.
I have never understood the philosophy that "old" more or less equates to "conservative" or "republican." If that is the case, in the famous words of Pete Townshend, "I hope I die before I get old." from "Won't get fooled again."
One would also think old equates to wise. However, most Floridian seniors are either changing their pampers or playing golf, both of whom are equally aloof to fact that republicans WANT their money.
If you are old, what use are you to society for a republican? None, other than your vote.
Every time you see a POLL in this three-way race it's DIFFERENT!!!
In my opinion, Meeks is beginning to stand above both candidates. In the beginning, I was kind of hoping Meek would drop out and hand Crist the votes but now I feel the other way around – maybe Crist should drop out. The only BAD thing about that is the RIGHT that is voting for Crist will move to the right for Rubio more than moving to the left for Meek!! The more I listen to Crist, the more REPUBLICAN he sounds…. Ah, I don’t like that when I thought he was moving more to the middle!!!
The same in AK –Adams just might WIN!!! The media paid NO ATTENTION to Adams and I got to meet him from the Rachel Maddow show tonight – she broadcasted LIVE from there. AK people are really fighting to get Adams to WIN! The reason why the poll numbers are changing there and it’s now in a three-way tie!!! The people in AK said that PALIN’s approval rating there is below President Obama’s and they do not like her because she is a QUITTER!!!
The race in FL is difficult – it’s scary and hard to predict!!! I just want the DEMOCRATS to get out and vote and THINK with their heads as to who they want in Washington!!!
This is T’SAH and I approve this message!!
Mr. Meek –
Drop out and endorse and campaign for Crist. If you both stay in Rubio wins and the GOPTP`ers have another obstructionist to fight him.
In return Mr. Crist should endorse Mr. Meeks for the subsequent Senatorial race. Mr. Crist also has to caucus with the Democrats.
Bottom line – one less republican now and a Democratic pickup in the next election.
If "above the fray" is a fancy way of saying "at the bottom of the polls," then yes, Meek's above the fray. Seems like he needs to mix it up.
I think Mr. Rubio is a phoney. Immigration should include doing away with with the wet foot policy for cubans or include all groups in that policy.:His pitiful ads about his mom and dad make me laugh. When my father came to this country he was a dishwasher and cleaned cages in the bronx zoo. So what!
He is an insult to the hispanic population.
Senator Rubio did too many of these debates. He will win by more than 15 points. There was nothing to gain by continuing to do these.
C.Crist is a decent man,but Kendrick Meek is by far the BEST option.Rubio will be a disaster for the state of Florida!
If I lived there I would vote for Meek. I would'nt want to deal with an internal republican civil war. Differences aside I thinkyuo need to look at stability alot more when voting as well.
yet rubio is destroying the two radical candidates. to bad cnn, i realize you hate it with a passion, but Nov 2 is going to be a bloodbath for Imam Obama and his merry band of radicals. count on it
“Create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who would eventually pay into the system.”
Many smart economist suggesting from 2004 that is true