ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — With polls showing a close race, the candidates for Florida Attorney General took to the podium to argue their cases Tuesday night.

Republican Ashley Moody and Democrat Sean Shaw took part in a Spectrum News Debate moderated by Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory, Spectrum News 13 anchor Ybeth Bruzual and Mike Deeson of the First Amendment Foundation.

Moody, a former prosecutor and judge, stressed her experience and qualifications to be the state's next "top cop."

"I am the only one running for top cop that has led investigations. I am the only one running to be Florida's top prosecutor that has prosecuted cases," she said.

Shaw, an attorney, former insurance advocate and state representative, chided Moody when he said she wasn't answering questions, particularly about President Donald Trump.

"Since we still haven't heard an answer as to whether the president is a good role model, let me answer that. "No," he said after Moody gave her response.



The candidates answered questions on a wide-range of topics including affordable healthcare, the Trump administration, gun control, Florida's stand your ground law, the opioid crisis and public education.

They also traded barbs about what it means to be Attorney General.

"It is not to advance a political agenda or pick topics that are personal to me and use the office to sue anybody I can come up with, even if I don't have a legal basis to do it," said Moody.

"I'm pretty sure the oath I take is to uphold the constitution, and so while we may disagree on some things, absolutely I believe there is a role to play and we will find out. That's a fundamental disagreement on how we will approach the office," Shaw responded.

On the state's opioid problem, Shaw said the state cannot "prosecute our way out" of the crisis.

"We need solutions. We need things that are different than we've been doing," Shaw said.

Moody said it was one of the reasons she gave up her job as a judge.

"I believe my background as a federal drug prosecutor, wife of a DEA agent, I can make progress (on the opioid crisis)," she said.



The candidates also debated the Majory Stoneman Douglas Act that stemmed from the Parkland high school massacre in February.

"There is no one who wants to keep schools safe like I do. I will lead on this effort," Moody said.

"My personal policies will never come into play. I will always make decisions based on the job," she said.

Shaw countered: "I didn't think the response to Parkland should be arming teachers ... that is not what I believe ought to be the response."

The Attorney General Debate will be re-broadcast on Spectrum Bay News 9 and Spectrum News 13  at 7 p.m. Saturday.