DAVIE, Fla. - It was a Senate showdown... just two weeks from election day. The 3 men vying for Florida's U.S. Senate seat sounded off in their fourth debate.
The stakes are high and the criticism was plentiful. Tonight's debate was held at Nova Southeastern University, sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.
Despite Republican Marco Rubio leading in the polls, Democrat Kendrick Meek and Independent Charlie Crist made it clear: it's still anyone's game.
Former Speaker Rubio began with the issue closest to Florida voters: jobs. "What we need in Washington are leaders, government leaders that will create and environment where starting a business and expanding a business is easier, not harder," Rubio said.
With state unemployment 2 percentage points higher than the national average, the moderator turned to Governor Crist, asking why should Florida voters trust him to get them jobs.
"It is easy to govern when money is flowing," Crist answered. "It is hard to govern when money is tight. It was important to take the Recovery Act money for one simple reason - because I care about the people of our state."
Meek addressed unemployment saying, "I'm for middle class tax cuts, I'm for child credits, I'm for tax cuts that are going to help people get back on their feet," he said. "What they're advocating is tax cuts for the wealthy."
They took sides on raising taxes versus cutting social security benefits.
"Now is the time to cut taxes, this is where the speaker and I agree," Crist said.
"The very tax cut that the Governor and Marco is talking about are tax cuts that are going to take this country into a deeper hole," Meek replied.
They also addressed national healthcare reform and immigration.
"What I said is that the immigration laws need to be followed and we need to have a legal immigration system that works," Rubio said.
Rubio, whose parents were immigrants, was accused of having an "anti-Latino" platform. Crist defended allegations of flip-flopping, and Meek, of having a voting record identical to Nancy Pelosi's.
While candidates mainly rehashed issues from the past 3 debates, the heat was on in the final showdown.
"The speaker's position on the issue changed, and all of a sudden miraculously, that bill went through. That's what we don't need in Washington," Crist said, alluding to the result of a home sale by Rubio a few years ago.
Rubio shot back, saying, "The St. Pete times had a reporter with Crist on the day he switched parties. And you know what was the last call he made before he switched parties? It was to his pollster. And when his pollster told him he had a better chance to win as a Independent than as a Republican, he switched parties."
Immediately following the debate, Meek and Rubio's campaigns sent e-mails declaring victories. Of course, voters will have the final say on November 2nd.