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Alaska Gubernatorial Candidates Clash over Money, Abortion, Education

BY Admin  October 19, 2006 at 1:05 PM EDT

Alaska Governor's Mansion

On the Alaska Public Radio Network call-in show “Talk of Alaska” Oct. 17, Palin accused Democrat Tony Knowles of flip-flopping on key issues such as whether the pension plan for public employees is in crisis or not.

Palin also took angry calls from pro-choice residents who asked what punishments she would recommend for women who seek abortions, should a bill prohibiting the procedure passes and she signs it into law, as she has said she would.

Palin said the abortion question is ultimately up the Supreme Court and her campaign later accused the Knowles campaign of organizing the calls to the show.

That night, Knowles went on the offensive, saying Palin would rather deliver a “rambling” ode to her father than an education plan at a recent forum, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Earlier in the month, Palin passed out an old opinion piece instead of her formal plan, as the Knowles campaign did. Palin’s spokesman responded that the article was meant to help the audience get to know her.

The evening event was a chamber of commerce debate in Wasilla, where Palin was mayor from 1996 to 2002.

“I’m glad you guys found (Wasilla) on the map today and were able to be here,” Palin said at the opening, referring to Knowles campaign commercials that claim Palin isn’t ready to be governor because she’s only been a mayor of a small city.

The campaign has tightened in recent weeks. A Rasmussen Reports poll from Oct. 12 shows Palin polling at 47 percent — 7 percentage points better than Knowles. However, that lead is down 8 points from September.

On Oct. 18, the main party candidates joined independent candidate Andrew Halcro on the “Bob and Mark Show,” where Palin criticized Knowles for allowing the Democratic Governors Association to pay for research into her mayoral record at Wasilla City Hall.

The Knowles campaign has already accused Palin of hypocrisy for calling her campaign grassroots while benefiting from frequent TV commercials paid for by the Republican Governors Association.

Meanwhile, Halcro has been running ads poking fun at both candidates. The spots feature the former Republican talking about partisan politics as someone in a donkey suit and someone in an elephant suit noisily duke it out in the background.