ATLANTA --- Republican Nathan Deal took attacks from Democrat Roy Barnes and Libertarian John Monds about his conservatism and stance on women's issues in the final debate of the race for governor.
Barnes aimed to pick up ground with women by challenging Deal to defend specific votes in Congress and the state Senate on rape kits, medical leave, boosting the minimum wage and other issues.
Deal, who spent 18 years in the U.S. House, said bills in Congress often involve multiple issues and that some "no" votes are for aspects of those bills that Barnes didn't mention. One example was the Violence Against Women Act Barnes cited. Deal said he voted against a version that contained gun-control measures but voted later for another version that didn't.
"I'm the only one who has prosecuted rapists and sent them to prison rather than defending them, as you have done," Deal said, noting that he learned plenty about women's issues as a juvenile-court judge.
Barnes retorted that he had also been a prosecutor before he entered private practice.
"I prosecuted rapists, too, Nathan. You're not the only one who's been a prosecutor," he said. "I prosecuted rapists over the years. I put them in jail. I sent men to the electric chair."
When Barnes wasn't accusing Deal of being weak on women's issues, Monds was charging that he wasn't conservative enough. Though groups have named Deal one of the 10 most conservative members of Congress, Monds blasted him for supporting the No Child Left Behind education law and the creation of the drug benefit in Medicare.
Deal responded that he cut $10 billion from the cost of Medicaid as chairman of the Health Subcommittee in 2005. Plus, the Medicare drug benefit led to reductions in the cost of hospitalization and other treatment in the program, he said.
"If you're against providing prescriptions for seniors, we just have a disagreement," Deal told Monds.