Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MacKay Needs a Home Run

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MacKay Needs a Home Run

Article excerpt

Down by 15 points in the polls and heading into the final weeks

of Florida's gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Buddy MacKay

needs to hit a home run in tomorrow's showdown with Republican

Jeb Bush to turn his lackluster campaign around.

And scoring points against Bush in a onehour debate won't be as

easy for MacKay as it was for Gov. Lawton Chiles, who easily

handled Bush in their 1994 debates.

A lot has happened since that campaign. Bush has spent nearly

four years planning for this event. He has systematically worked

to correct every mistake from his first gubernatorial campaign

and is unlikely to repeat them.

The first debate is more important for MacKay than Bush. MacKay

needs to leave Orlando with some favorable headlines so voters

will start paying more attention to his campaign. As for Bush,

he has such a big lead that he just needs to play it safe and

not make too many mistakes.

Jim Kane, editor of the monthly political journal Florida

Voter, says MacKay needs to come out swinging, challenging Bush

on any changes between his positions today and his stands in

1994.

"He's got to address the issue of character and whether Bush is

an extremist in sheep's clothing," Kane said.

MacKay's campaign is built around the theme of experience

voters can trust, so if he can make Bush look unsure of himself

or unsteady in any way, he would reinforce his theme and may

convince voters to take another look at his candidacy.

If not, MacKay will have few other opportunities to turn this

race around. MacKay and Bush will debate three times, two of

which will be televised.

Bush has more room for error, but he can't just sit back and

let MacKay pummel him. Bush, who has a reputation for losing his

temper, needs to maintain his cool.

"I'm sure MacKay will try to trip him up," said Matthew

Corrigan , a political science professor at the University of

North Florida. …

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