There are only 46 days left before Florida democrats pick a U.S. Senate candidate. Thursday, three considered frontrunners in the race squared off in Tallahassee.
Until now the three candidates have taken swipes at each other, but they are aiming their verbal guns at the president and his war policy.
Former education commissioner Betty Castor is playing to her strengths. Congressman Peter Deutsch is pushing health care, and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas put a hush over the room with a full-fledged attack on the Bush administration.
Penelas says, "That America’s cause for going to war was based on bad information from our own intelligence agency, and that the Bush administration grossly miscalculated and stretched the truth."
When it was over even Castor supporters say Penelas did the most to set himself apart from the others. He is also the first to forcefully attack Bush, which clearly appeals to the democratic base.
"I think someone has to talk about this, I think someone has to have the courage to say that enough is enough if this president mislead us," adds Penelas.
Betty Castor believes she will be the most electable.
"I’ve had experience in the political arena, in elective office, and I’ve also had the opportunity to look at the situation from outside," she says.
And Deutsch thinks he will speak more clearly for the average Floridian.
"Someone who is for it every day for the last 22 years for health care issues, for fair share, for stem cell research," says Deutsch.
Voters choose between the three August 31. A fourth democrat, Bernard Klein, was a no-show for Thursday's debate.