Rose Ferlita at WFLA radio debate on Tampa mayoral opponent Bob Buckhorn "He somewhat distorts the truth."

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Disputing an "insinuation" that she didn't fully support the high speed rail route from Tampa to Orlando, Ferlita corrected the record, saying that "I was very disappointed that ...Governor Scott very quickly just said,' No, not going to do it.' There was some things that I don't think he waited to decide on to make a conscientious decision, in terms of the ridership, in terms of the possibilities of private dollars," adding that she didn't think Scott was "comprehensive enough in his research and  his data collection, and so I think that's what reflected his decision. I think it was short sided."

Buckhorn followed up by saying that everybody should be thankful that Rick Scott wasn't President in the 1950's "when Dwight Eisenhower built the Interstate (highway) system. Because he probably would have turned that down too."

Buckhorn at one point was asked to defend his drive to crack down on street prostitution in the city. "It allowed people in Seminole Heights reclaim their streets," he said, mentioning (once again) that it was modeled on the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention that Rudy Giuliani and the NYPD used to great success in cleaning up New York in the early 1990's.

When asked by Tedd Webb about how the campaign has turned negative over the past week, both candidates defended themselves.  Ferlita alluded to the now infamous mailer that was reported on by CL and other news publications last Friday that referred to her status as a single woman. "It was awful. Awful that we've come to the point where unmarried women are looked at as not qualified to run...that offended a lot of people."

In the new Buckhorn ad that began airing over the past 24 hours, the same photo of Ferlita in that controversial mailer is shown in his ad, leading Buckhorn aid Beth Leytham to comment that the photo "is in the public domain and easily accessed by anyone googling 'rose ferlita photos'," (which is true, as we were able to access that photo by doing exactly that), to apparently dispel any connection between the mailer and the new ad.

And speaking of that mailer, Buckhorn told Jack Harris during the debate that he's not sure that it was ever mailed out to any voters (neither are we). "Nobody has gotten one," he said. "The mail id# on it is a fictitious ID#.  We don't know where this flier is. No one has seen are we creating a Trojan horse here? To react to an issue?"

The fourth an

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.

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