Davis attacks Crist on Schiavo, crime

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, center, makes a point as Republican opponent Charlie Crist, left, and Reform Party candidate Max Linn, right, look during their televised debate Monday night Oct. 30, 2006 in Tampa, Fla.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
TAMPA - Democrat Jim Davis sought political gain from Republican Charlie Crist's stumbles in Monday's televised debate as the race to replace term-limited Gov. Jeb Bush entered its final week on Tuesday.
Davis ripped Crist for statements made on the death of Terri Schiavo and crime statistics, two topics that Crist has generally been praised for in the past.
In the debate, Crist said that crime is at a 35-year low in Florida, which is true. But he also said violent crime was down when murder has gone up dramatically this year.
In a conference call with reporters, Davis backed away from his campaign's assertion that Crist "lied" about the statistics.
"Our attorney general didn't even know (violent crime statistics are going up) or he wouldn't admit it. Either way he's wrong," Davis said.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara, recently in the news after the murder of a family of four on the Florida Turnpike this month, said he was concerned with Crist's statements.
"I was appalled when I learned that our chief law enforcement officer for the state of Florida was so inaccurate in his assessment on violent crime trends in our state," Mascara said.
Crist has been endorsed by most law enforcement groups in the state, and his pushes for stiffer mandatory sentences on prisoners, the reinstitution of chain gangs in the 1990s and his high-profile action after the murders of young girls including Carlie Brucia have made crime a centerpiece of his campaign.
By comparison, Davis' campaign Web site contains no section for crime among the issues he addresses.
Crist called Davis' attacks "laughable" and "ridiculous."
"Jim Davis has done nothing for public safety. We are at a 35-year low in crime across the board," Crist said. "He hasn't talked about crime in this entire campaign and he has the nerve to say that we're doing nothing."
Crist has said he will sign no other bill if elected until lawmakers pass his "anti-murder" plan that would jail violent felons who violate their probation.
Davis also rapped Crist for voting against a bill that would have paid for additional bulletproof vests for law enforcement officers. Crist said he voted against the bill while in the state Senate in 1993 due to an increase in fees to pay for the vests.
Davis also attacked Crist for saying Monday that he spoke out against Bush's push to overturn numerous court rulings that ended up in the termination of life support for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in 2005.
Davis said Crist "misrepresented" his actions on the Schiavo case during the debate.
"I was up there fighting George Bush and the entire United States Congress, both political parties, and Charlie Crist was unwilling to take a position," Davis said.
As attorney general, Crist was conspicuous in his silence on the controversy while most conservative Republicans passionately tried to thwart judges' rulings.
"We had the opportunity in the attorney general's office to do many things to push that in a direction and we did not, which speaks volumes," Crist said. "People understood very clearly where I stood on that issue."
Asked why he did not take a more vocal stance with his opposition, Crist said, "I have not felt the need to grandstand on that issue that is so deeply personal. Apparently my opponent has chosen to do so."
Bush said Tuesday that Crist did tell him of his opposition on the Schiavo matter.
And Bush said Davis misspoke when he claimed to have worked with Bush on homeland security issues.
"I'm getting older and got a lot of data coming on to my radar. I don't remember working with him on homeland security. I just don't remember it and he said it about three times," Bush said.

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