Sparring, Spinning in West Palm Beach

On Tuesday, the Palm Beach Post hosted (and broadcast on its Web site) a debate between Democratic Senatorial candidates Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek.

And? The following two headlines provide a sense of how it went:

“Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene really dislike each other,” St. Petersburg Times blog

“Meek warns opponent: don’t talk about my mama” (subhed: “Yo mama jokes have no place in Senate debate”), NBC Miami affiliate

(The “mama” headline references what the Sun-Sentinel blog calls “one of the dramatic moments for which debates are often known,” during which Greene “suggested Meek was personally corrupt for trying to get federal money to aid a developer in his district while the developer…paid Meek’s mother $90,000 as a consultant and provided her with a Cadillac Escalade” — to which Meek responded, “How dare you attack the character of my mother.”)

Words that jump out in a quick scan of additional headlines include: “testy,” “sparks fly,” “heated,” “personal attacks mar…debate,” “firefight,” “nasty,” and “fierce.”

The debate, as summarized by the Miami Herald’s Beth Reinhard:

This being their first face-to-face encounter, the rhetoric quickly escalated. Greene suggested that Meek had caused the housing crisis — and the devastation from the Gulf oil spill — by failing to prevent them. Meek made it sound as if Greene personally served foreclose notices to Florida homeowners and then laughed his way to the bank.

And, from the Sun-Sentinel blog:

Despite efforts by the moderator and questioners, the candidates blistered each other throughout the debate. Issues weren’t simply relegated to the back burner, they didn’t even make it to the stove.

First comes sparring, then comes spinning (also from Sun-Sentinel):

Both candidates spoke with reporters after the debate, but Greene’s staff pulled him away when the candidate got repeated questions about why he hasn’t released copies of his income tax returns. Meek followed a more traditional approach to spinning the debate. During the event, his campaign sent out seven press releases backing up Meek’s assertions. Within minutes of its conclusion, Meek’s campaign declared their candidate the winner.

Voters will presumably declare a winner on August 24, primary day.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.