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Meek-Greene debate testy from the get-go

Tuesday's debate between Democratic Senate candidates Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek was loaded with personal insults, pie-in-sky claims and wild exaggerations.

As expected, Greene went after the Miami congressman for seeking federal funds for a developer later charged with stealing $1 million. Just as predictably, Meek tore into Greene for having registered as a Democrat only two years ago and for profiting from the real estate meltdown.

This being their first face-to-face encounter, the rhetoric quickly escalated. Greene suggested that Meek had caused the housing crisis -- and the devastation from the Gulf oil spill -- by failing to prevent them. Meek made it sound like Greene personally served foreclose notices to Florida homeowners and then laughed his way to the bank.

Greene stumbled a bit when he looked at his notes more than once but loosened up as the debate went on.  "I don't think you ever know what a credit default swap or a derivative is,'' scoffed the real estate tycoon. His most awkward moment was when he was forced to admit he drove a Cadillac Escalade -- the same car he has mocked Meek's mother for receiving as payment from developer Dennis Stackhouse.