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GOP Gov. Candidates Trade Jabs in Debate

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- It was an inter-party square off of the two Republicans seeking to be the next governor.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- It was an inter-party square off of the two Republicans seeking to be the next governor.

Businessman Curtis Coleman and former Congressman Asa Hutchinson traded jabs on everything from education to the national guard.

Their economic plans focused on cutting taxes and providing a more employable workforce. Hutchinson advocated focusing on computer science education in high schools, while Coleman turned his attention to vocational training for those not heading to four year colleges.

"We've got to put shop back in high school," Coleman exclaimed.

On the state's private option healthcare law, Coleman said it "was a mistake from the very beginning. All the way through, I've never changed my position."

"I see it as a test it might work," Hutchinson replied. "The big question is whether it's affordable over the long-term."

During one testy exchange, Hutchinson challenged Coleman's opposition to repeated overseas deployments of the Arkansas National Guard.

"Would you have stopped our national guard from serving(in Iraq and Afghanistan?)" Hutchinson questioned.

"Men and women who signed up to be in the National Guard did not sign up to be in a full-time active military service," Coleman responded.

In the end both candidates said they'd support the primary winner. Hutchinson has a solid fundraising lead and a potential match up with Democrat Mike Ross looming. Hutchinson was asked what's changed since his 2006 loss to now governor Democrat Mike Beebe.

"What's changed is that the politics of Arkansas," Hutchinson replied.
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