PHOENIX (AP) - Leading candidates for Arizona governor came out swinging Wednesday evening, exchanging jabs during the last scheduled joint appearance of the general election campaign.
Democratic nominee Janet Napolitano, the current state attorney general, said Republican candidate Matt Salmon "inherits a legacy" of failed Republican leadership in a state government that has neglected health care and education.
"We're not giving our children the kind of opportunity they deserve and we won't if we continue the failed politics of the past," she said to cheers from supporters in the audience in a ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton hotel.
"That's what we've been left by bad decisions at the Capitol," she said.
Noting that Napolitano now holds statewide office, Salmon declined to accept her attempt to characterize him as a continuation of the past.
"We do have some severe problems," the former congressman said. "We need a new start."
Salmon, who also had numerous supporters in the crowd, said Napolitano has fallen short as a crime-fighter and that her fiscal proposals would undermine the state's economic climate.
"The absolute last thing that I want to do is put all of our failed policies on the backs of small businesses," he said.
Napolitano holds liberal positions that are out of place in Arizona, he said. "This is not the home of Ted Kennedy. This is the home of Barry Goldwater."
Napolitano said the state can't raise its income tax but needs to eliminate some sales-tax exemptions to produce more revenue.
Tax cuts enacted in the 1990s "are here to stay but in the future we need to plan better for the future legacy of the next generation," Napolitano said.
Independent Richard Mahoney and Libertarian Barry Hess also participated in the forum, the last of three televised appearances for gubernatorial candidates during the campaign leading up to Tuesday's general election.
The forum will be televised Sunday afternoon by television stations KPHO in Phoenix and KOLD in Tucson, said Tom Jenney, a spokesman for the Goldwater Institute, a co-sponsor of the event.