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andidates for the two highest offices in Florida -- the U.S. Senate seat and the Governor's chair -- met in back-to-back debates on Oct. 19-20, just weeks before Election Day. These important debates were co-produced by the St. Petersburg Times and NBC/Florida.

Senate debate coverage | Gubernatorial debate coverage

Graham Crist MacKay Bush

The participants
The Senatorial Debate featured Democrat Bob Graham and Republican Charlie Crist, while the Gubernatorial Debate featured Republican Jeb Bush and Democrat Buddy MacKay.

The event
The debates were held Monday evening, Oct. 19, and Tuesday evening, Oct. 20. Each debate was from 7 to 8 p.m. and was be held at the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press, moderated both debates, and both were broadcasted live on the eight NBC-affiliate stations throughout Florida. An audience of 1-million viewers was expected.

The sponsors
While the debates were organized and co-produced by the St. Petersburg Times and NBC/Florida, they are sponsored by four leading organizations who are interested in supporting the future of Florida through public discourse. The four sponsors are SunTrust Banks, AT&T, Holland & Knight, and the AARP.



[Times photo: Jonathan Newton]

Gubernatorial Debate coverage, Oct. 21
Spirited Showdown

In the final debate before the election, Bush and MacKay make their differences clear.

No one was wounded; no one even stumbled
Voters looking toward St. Petersburg for fireworks Tuesday night are probably still looking this morning.

Candidates seem to reassure some, sway few
Around Tampa Bay, many viewers say the candidate they already backed won the debate. But many don't watch.

Bush's performance is mother-approved
The familiar face nodded approval over and over again Tuesday night. An adoring smile and the neatly coiffed white hair made it easy to spot Barbara Bush, America's most famous mother, in a front-row seat where she watched a spirited debate between the men who want to become Florida's next governor.



[Times photo]

Senatorial Debate coverage, Oct. 20
Hopefuls are poles apart
In their sole televised debate, the Democratic senator and his Republican challenger offer sharply contrasting opinions and styles.

Bush, MacKay set for final showdown
Tonight's televised debate marks the last time the candidates for governor will appear together before the Nov. 3 election.

Debating the debate more lively for some
Few voters watched Monday night's debate more closely than the students in a University of South Florida politics class.

Debate is sound bites vs. substance
The difference between Bob Graham and Charlie Crist in Monday night's debate can be summed up in one sequence.



Special section: The St. Petersburg Times presents a closer look at the history, background and platforms of the candidates for Florida governor and U.S. Senate.

The St. Petersburg Times and NBC/Florida
wish to thank the following debate sponsors:

 

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