Barnes, Deal square off in heated debate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Barnes, Deal square off in heated debate

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – With the clock ticking until November 2nd, the gloves came off during Tuesday night's debate at WALB TV's studio.

During a Q&A session between the candidates, former Congressman Nathan Deal questioned former Governor Roy Barnes over what he said would be a gentlemanly and civil race.

"Every ad that you have run has been an attack on me. Every statement that you have made personally has been attack on me or on my family," said Deal.

Barnes replied, "Is it fair game to say that you have not paid enough taxes and you won't disclose why you did not pay the taxes?"

One of the most heated exchanges was over an inspection contract Deal's Gainesville salvage yard had with the state.

Deal defended the contract saying, "We never received one penny of tax payer money. It made money for the state of Georgia. These are the kinds of distortions I think the public is tired of."

But Barnes continued to push the issue. "The state of Georgia granted you an exclusive franchise so you could take it from the tax payers," he said.

"This is just an effort on the part of Roy Barnes to not talk about his record. Let's talk about him practicing before judges he appointed to the bench," said Deal.

Questions posed by panelists, some submitted by viewers, dealt with the state's water supply, education, health care reform, and immigration.

Deal accused Barnes of proposing billions in new spending.

Barnes says the spending will improve education and he'll pay for it by getting rid of special interest tax cuts

Both candidates agreed on supporting some form of a guest worker program and deepening the Port of Savannah.

Deal defended a $10 million study to find out the feasibility of constructing reservoirs from the Flint River's tributaries - a move Barnes said was a study designed to look into possible dam construction along the river.

But it's Washington issues that could very well play into this election.

"I'm running for governor of Georgia not for President of the United States, God forbid," said Barnes, who added that his opponent spent 18 years serving as a U.S. Congressman in Washington.

Deal said "You either embrace his policies or you ignore them and say that you don't stand for them. He's using President Obama in areas where he thinks it's going to be important to him and denouncing him in other general areas."

In the candidates closing statements, Nathan Deal pointed out that this is a re-districting year and claimed his opponent has the worst record on re-districting in modern history.

Barnes closed with a question asking voters which of the two candidates they would rather have running their business.

Prior to the debate both candidates made campaign stops in Albany.

Barnes attended a forum at Albany State University with fellow Democrats U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop at State Rep. Winfred Dukes.

Deal attended a fundraiser at Merry Acres attended by several supporters and local and state elected officials.

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