CNN/St. Petersburg Times debate brings attacks old and new

Marco Rubio, Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist all came out swinging at the CNN/St. Petersburg Times debate held on Oct. 24, 2010.
Marco Rubio, Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist all came out swinging at the CNN/St. Petersburg Times debate held on Oct. 24, 2010.

Another U.S. Senate debate. Another litany of attacks.

And another less than stellar day for the truth.

Independent Gov. Charlie Crist, Democrat U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and Republican former state House speaker Marco Rubio didn't let up in the fifth of six televised debates broadcast live on CNN on Oct. 24, 2010, in partnership with the St. Petersburg Times.

In defending his position against extending tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year, Meek flubbed his math in claiming that "middle-class families throughout America (would) have to pay $6,000 per year to pay for" tax cuts for the wealthy.

He's off by a factor of 10, at least.

And Rubio went too far when he tried to claim the flip-flopping Crist "attacks me for positions he held, like, six months ago, (when) he was running in the Republican primary."

Crist may have flipped on several issues, but his attacks of Rubio largely have been consistent.

Crist did get it right, however, when he claimed that Rubio said liberal MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann should leave the country. And he also was correct in saying Florida was the first state to divest in companies who do business with Iran.

But he erred in discussing other parts of his time as governor. Crist repeated claims that he signed into law the state's largest tax cut. PolitiFact Florida twice has ruled that claim False, noting that the the governor's math is out of date and incorrect, and that Save Our Homes has so far provided Florida more tax savings.

And he again talked about cutting the state budget $7 billion, but again failed to mention that crafting a balanced state budget is required in Florida's Constitution.

The hourlong debate, moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley and Times political editor Adam C. Smith, steered clear of the federal health care bill or Social Security, and instead narrowed in on tax policy.

A lot of the talk centered on whether or not to extend the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire. Meek said he supported extending the tax cuts for people making $250,000 or less while Crist and Rubio said the tax cuts should be extended to all.

Crist, however, appeared willing to compromise while Rubio did not.

At PolitiFact, we've written several items about the tax cuts. Some key questions we've examined:

Would extending tax cuts for the wealthy add less to the deficit than President Barack Obama added with the stimulus in one year?

Are most of the so-called "wealthy" small business owners?

Would extending the tax cuts for everyone mean millionaires and billionaires save $100,000 or more?

The candidates meet for the last time Oct. 26 in an Orlando NBC News debate.