Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita engaged in their 3rd one-on-one debate of the runoff election campaign for Tampa mayor this morning.
The event, streamed live on WFLA 970 AM's website and hosted by the station's morning team of Jack Harris and Tedd Webb, remained mostly on the issues, but a new commercial aired by Buckhorn that denounces Ferlita's campaign as "sleazy" added a new element to the race, as Ferlita continued to stay on the offensive, including a claim that is referenced in her controversial ad, that Buckhorn distorts the truth.
That comment came after an audience member submitted a question that alluded to Buckhorn allegedly taking too much credit for saving MacDill AirForce Base from being taken off the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) list back in the 1990's when he worked as an assistant to then Mayor Sandy Freedman. The letter referenced a St. Pete Times article from February of 2003, quoting a MacDill official as saying that Buckhorn stretched his involvement to save the base.
In fact, it sounded so much like it was crafted from a Ferlita supporter that after it was read aloud, Buckhorn looked over at Ferlita and said with a smile "You could have asked me that question, Rose." Buckhorn said it was an old campaign argument made against him that has been found to be untrue. "It's nonsense," he concluded.
Ferlita couldn't wait to follow up, saying,"That's one of the accusations...that he somewhat distorts the truth." She said Congressman Bill Young deserved the lion's share of the credit for saving the base, and only allowed that "Bob might have played a minor part in that, but the way it's portrayed, he was the hero who was out there."
Ferlita sounded a more critical note when it came time to criticizing her Governor and fellow Republican, Rick Scott, for his actions on killing high speed rail and the state's drug monitoring program.