Skip to comments.Harris hoping last debate can close gap with Nelson
Posted on 11/01/2006 5:29:26 PM PST by NautiNurse
ORLANDO, Fla. - Republican Katherine Harris and Democrat Bill Nelson clashed on taxes, the Iraq war and the future of Social Security in their final debate before next week's U.S. Senate election.
Harris, a Longboat Key congresswoman, again attacked Nelson as a liberal who would raise taxes. Nelson, the incumbent senator, said he voted against President Bush's initial tax cut bill because it was flawed but has voted 81 times to cut taxes or extend tax cuts.
"I'm not going to let her get away with this," Nelson said, sitting at a table with Harris and moderator Tim Russert in the televised debate. "She has made a number of statements that are not true, and credibility has a been a problem for my opponent in this campaign."
The debate was seen as critical for Harris, who lacks the money to run statewide TV commercials. She was feistier Wednesday than during the first debate last week, but there were few fireworks and it's questionable whether she got the boost she needed to close the gap between her and Nelson, who has a big lead in the polls.
Continually pressed by Russert to say whether she would vote for the war now knowing that Iraq did not have the weapons of mass destruction, she repeatedly declined to answer.
Instead, she said, "If we knew today what we knew back then, there never would have been a vote called to go to war."
Nelson told Russert he would have voted against the war with the knowledge that Iraq did not have the weapons.
"The word is not mistake, the word is misrepresentation," Nelson said of what lawmakers were told about weapons in Iraq. "We were given the wrong information. We were given massaged information."
When asked if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was doing a good job conducting the war, Harris said it was "adequate" and added that "he needs to focus on a new strategy, one that is flexible."
Both candidates said a new strategy is needed in Iraq, including work toward a political solution. They also agreed that a timetable cannot be set for military withdrawal. But they had opposing views on the whether troops can be win the war.
"We can clearly win this war. When you talk to the troops, they say it's winnable," Harris said.
After Harris criticized Democrats for not offering solutions to protect Social Security, Nelson accused her of making it a partisan issue.
"Listen to the words of my opponent - the Democrats this, the Democrats that," he said. "The only way we can solve these kinds of problems and lot of the other problems, including Iraq, is to reach out to both sides of the aisle and bring people together."
On the stump Harris paints Nelson as a far-left liberal who tries to raise taxes, coddles illegal immigrants and undermines President Bush's policies.
Nelson's campaign repeatedly has attacked Harris' claims and credibility, characterizing him instead as an effective freshman senator who has fought for tax cuts, voted in favor of the Senate immigration bill supported by President Bush and leans more toward the center than the left.
Harris, 49, gained the adoration of the Republican rank-and-file - and the scorn of Democrats - in 2000 when as Florida secretary of state, she oversaw the recount that put George W. Bush in the White House. She won her congressional seat in 2002 and was re-elected in 2004.
She continues trying to repair the damage that has plagued her campaign all year.
Support was lacking initially from state GOP leaders, including Gov. Jeb Bush, who tried to recruit someone else to run. Campaign workers have defected in droves, she has made questionable public statements and has had to answer questions about her dealings with a corrupt defense contractor.
As of Sept. 30, she had less than $1 million in her campaign coffers, compared with $6.8 million for Nelson, 64, who is seeking his second six-year term in the Senate.
Nelson has been running statewide TV ads and also has donated $500,000 from his campaign treasury to the state Democratic Party.
Nelson really doesn't look well either.
the florida gop and jeb let us down here
why didn't jen bush run?
why didn t ms jennings run?
Thanks for posting this..
I missed the debate the first time...
I am just sick that Nelson and Casey are going to win so easily..(if the news is correct)...
Both of them are idiots.
why ask why, just support harris
I haven't seen a single Harris commercial on TV. Sad. She'll get the true believers' votes, but she has done very little to make inroads.
btw...my 22 months old granddaughter is laughing out loud at that picture of Nelson...
Well, she got at least one vote today. Hope it helps.
Did you see the debate? I was astonished when Nelson was asleep at the wheel.
Why is she losing? Do people not like her? She is a republican, so what's the problem?
Yeppers...she liked that one too...
But, then again, I am teaching her to laugh at ALL dems!
Viewed EXTREMELY negatively by independents and swing Democratic voters due to her prominent role in the 2000 Election controversy and the general media and talk show mockery of her at the time.
She's only a hero for her role in the 2000 election to a fairly small group of hardcore Republicans who always vote Republican anyway.
What has Katherine Harris said about drilling off Florida's coastlines???
The reason I ask is...I watch the Senate all of the time...and if any Senator even mentions drilling or even exploration...Nelson will run down to the floor before that Senator can take a breath....to nag, nag, nag about how he won't stand for any of it.
How are conservatives faring in the People's Republic of Maryland?
Harris agrees that drilling off the coast of FL and ANWR is necessary.