By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 13, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran spent nearly 45 minutes debating sanctuary cities on Tuesday.
The debate came after Corcoran aired a controversial television ad condemning sanctuary cities. The ad depicted a young woman being gunned down by an illegal immigrant.
Gillum called the ad "racist" and after several tweets brawling back and forth, the two politicians arranged a debate on the topic.
The debate was heated, with both politicians taking jabs at each other.
"You treat illegal immigrants better than you treat your own American citizens in your district," said Corcoran.
"I just hate that he now appears to be rehearsing for the Donald Trump Apprentice rather than as the third most powerful person in this state,” said Gillum.
The debate surrounded proposed House Bill 9, which would ban sanctuary cities in Florida. It would also allow law enforcement officers to hold illegal immigrants that have been detained for a crime for 48 hours while contacting the federal authorities.
Corcoran called the bill an issue of public safety, recounting scenarios across the country where citizens were killed by an illegal immigrant. But, Gillum warned that putting this responsibility at the local level would break the trust between residents and local law enforcement, causing them to not report crimes out of fear.
"The speaker, if he was so sincere about his intent to make sure no life is lost unnecessarily, then I would ask him to stand up to the NRA and to the gun lobby,” said Gillum.
Although the evening was a chance to push political policy, it was also a way to gain eyes and support during the political campaign season.
"There’s nothing political about this. It's about protecting our citizens,” said Corcoran. "But if you want to talk political, three hours ago you sent out an email to everybody trying to raise money off this issue."
Gillum declared his candidacy back in March. And now, speculation is rising on whether Corcoran plans to run. He did not responds to questions about entering the Governor’s race.
More than 1000 people watched the debate live via Facebook.
By the end, neither candidate budged from their position.
“I thought it was a deplorable ad all ways around,” said Gillum.
“I’ll say it to anybody, any place, anytime. Florida, not one city, not one square mile, should be a sanctuary city,” said Corcoran.