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Fla. gubernatorial candidates address Baptist paper’s queries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–With less than a week before the Nov. 5 election, the race for Florida’s governor has drawn attention across the United States. Calling an interview with each of the candidates a “fourth debate,” the Florida Baptist Witness has showcased the views of both incumbent Gov. Jeb Bush and challenger Bill McBride in a special report.

Answering questions relating to issues of faith and morality, both Bush and McBride expressed a range of views in separate interviews with the Witness’ executive editor, James A. Smith Sr. The interviews are presented in question-and-answer format with word-for-word answers by the candidates.

The “fourth debate” covered issues of concern to Baptists that had received little or no attention in three previous formal debates between the two. On questions relating to abortion and homosexual issues, the candidates expressed opposite views.

McBride, who narrowly defeated former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno for the Democratic Party nomination, was unwilling to respond to a question about whether abortion is a moral evil, insisting Witness readers should be more interested in his policy position on abortion.

Citing support for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision permitting abortion, McBride said he is in favor of “letting women decide” whether to obtain an abortion.

“I just don’t think the government should stick its nose in there,” McBride said. “That’s a personal issue.”

Civil rights protections on the basis of sexual preference and the adoption of children by homosexuals are both “discrimination” issues to McBride. He said he supports civil rights protections but believes adoptions should be decided on a “case-by-case basis” regardless of sexual orientation.

“I just think you should never in your laws discriminate against a group of people,” McBride said.

Bush, the Republican candidate, said he has “tried to create a climate” for fewer abortions in Florida.

“I believe taking an innocent life is wrong,” Bush said. “I have acted on my beliefs as governor.”

In his first term in office, Bush has supported at least three pro-life measures and said he recently authorized more resources for abstinence education through the Florida Department of Health.

On civil rights protections for homosexuals, Bush said he does not support such legislation and would not support a repeal of Florida’s ban on the adoption of children by homosexuals.

“I don’t believe in discrimination against anybody based on sexual preference,” Bush said. “But I just don’t think we need to codify special rights for people who are homosexual.”

Other interview questions offered each of the candidates the opportunity to talk about his goals for office, his faith, state-sponsored gambling, faith-based initiatives, children’s social services and other items they felt might be of importance to readers.

The special report, from the Oct. 31 issue of the Florida Baptist Witness, with biographical information for each candidate and a list of additional informational websites, may be viewed at: www.floridabaptistwitness.org.

Smith, in a brief explanation titled “About the Interviews,” wrote, “I believe Christian citizens need information in order to make proper decisions, and Florida Baptist Witness is in the information business.”

Smith recounted that he asked “virtually the same questions to both men in order to provide as balanced a presentation as possible.”

“The selection of question topics were impacted by the amount of time we had to interview the candidates and by my desire to bring focus to certain issues that have received limited attention in the campaign,” Smith wrote.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: JEB BUSH and BILL MCBRIDE.

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