The awkward handshakes between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott are done for now.
Crist and Scott were often pressed for direct answers to questions related to minimum wage and path to citizenship for the undocumented. The debate went further into the candidates' personal history, such as Crist’s associates going to prison and Scott’s reasons for having a blind trust. Topical questions touched on Florida’s preparedness for an Ebola case and on preferential treatment by law enforcement after the New York Times found cases involving Florida State University athletes were often turned away.
Here are some highlights from the last debate before Election Day on Nov. 4.
On the concept of raising the minimum wage to $10.10: Scott is opposed to raising the minimum wage because of the potential job loss, which PolitiFact rates half true. While he supports the concept of raising it, he says the private sector influences it, “just because [the government] set a minimum wage doesn’t mean you get a job.” Crist supports raising the minimum wage and cites cities like Seattle and San Francisco that have raised it and created more jobs.
On drivers licenses for immigrants and immigration reform: Crist supports giving drivers licenses to immigrants. Scott opposes it until there is comprehensive immigration reform and wants reform to then support a path to citizenship. Scott mentioned passing in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. “But now, you won’t get them a drivers license, Rick?” Crist added.
On the Cuba embargo: Crist would not meet Raul Castro if he were in Cuba but wants to change the embargo. Scott defends the embargo and calls the Castro brothers “terrorists.”
On Florida being the second-highest state in signed death warrants: Scott says the death penalty is a solemn duty and difficult to do: “I review the cases and I’m very cautious in that case but they have done heinous crimes.” Crist pressed Scott to answer if Attorney General Pam Bondi delayed an execution to attend her campaign fundraiser, saying “that doesn’t sound to me that someone is taking that solemn duty as seriously as they should.” Scott replied “she apologized, Charlie.”
On racism in the GOP: Crist says “the element exists” based on emails exchanged by not just Republicans about the president in 2008 and having a tough time working across party lines. “It wasn't just because I was willing to work across the aisle with a Democrat to get the recovery funds to come to Florida. It was also pretty apparent to me because it was the first African-American president,” he says. Scott disagreed: “We have so many wonderful people here that have come from all over the world, and you want to try to divide people.”
On getting a do-over while in Florida office: Scott wants more time in office: ”I have called on companies for almost four years now, and I just wish there was more hours in a day.” And so does Crist: “the opportunity to serve you again as your governor, I love Florida.”
Here’s a transcript of the entire debate. See the live tweets from reporters below.
Live Blog Florida Gubernatorial Debate Oct. 21