Debating the Gov.'s Race

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The third of four scheduled debates between Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and his Republican challenger Haley Barbour ignited a few sparks.

The debate was tape-delayed and aired on WTOK-TV Tuesday evening. It started in normal debate fashion.

"Mississippi has gone backwards. An explosion of drug crime and the worst job loss under any governor in our state's history," said Barbour. "I hope we get to talk about those issues and the solutions tonight."

"In spite of a national recession. We have created 56,000 jobs and we are one of two states in the southeast that has seen a net increase in jobs over the last two years," said Musgrove.

But as the night progressed, things got heated, both in the audience and on the stage.

"My opponent doesn't want to talk about his record that he supported in Washington, that hurt us, that cost us jobs," said Musgrove.

"When the governor says I lobbied to lose jobs in Mississippi, he knows that is a bald faced lie. L-I-E. Bald faced lie," said Barbour.

By the end it got even more personal.

"But this is as far as you can go, Ronnie," said Barbour. "I'm going to just tell you, be a man and say that to my face. Don't turn and look at the audience, Ronnie."

Wednesday morning, the Barbour campaign sent out a news release outlining the "lies", but even still with the actions in last night's debate and the slew of negative ads, many are wondering, have the candidates gone too far?

"I think political candidates have been operating under the assumption that there is no line," said Dr. Kathy Baxter, a dean at Meridian Community College and political analyst. She said negative ads could have ramifications.

"Negative ads don't make people go out vote for the other candidate," Baxter said. "They simply make people not vote for the person who is the subject of the ad."

Republican supporter and political analyst Rick Barry agreed.

"People want to hear positive ads, what the candidate stands for," said Barry. "Not all of the negative remarks."

But it is still politics and anything, regardless of how low it might seem, is fair game.

Meanwhile, Gov. Musgrove said Wednesday that "Barbour's temper makes him ill-suited to serve as Mississippi's next governor."

Musgrove says it's clear Barbour lost his temper at the Tuesday night debate. Barbour denied losing his temper, saying he wanted to force Musgrove to stand by his ads.

Democrat Barbara Blackmon says she is running a positive campaign for lt. Governor. She shrugged off criticism she's received for asking republican Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck to sign an affidavit attesting she's never had an abortion.

Blackmon says she challenged tuck to sign an affidavit after tuck sent out a direct mail piece saying Blackmon had extreme views regarding abortion.

A spokesman for tuck said Wednesday that tuck has not yet signed an affidavit, but she would.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.