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Posted at 01:24 PM ET, 08/18/2010

Fenty and Gray face off in radio debate

Hours after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's campaign unveiled a new television ad where he promises to listen and do better, his calm was ruffled in a debate against chief opponent Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi show.

"You cut me off," Fenty told guest commentator Tom Sherwood as Fenty was answering a question about listening.

It was a highlight of the hour-long radio debate where both candidates stuck to their themes and attacks.

*Gray promised to be "inclusive" and noted the recreation construction contracts that went to firms with ties to Fenty.

*Fenty said the city has made progress during his tenure and pointed to Gray's record as director of the Department of Human Services, saying divisions went under court receivership.

But Nnamdi and Sherwood were looking for fresh answers, stirring debate about the city's racial divide. A new Clarus poll shows Gray with a slim lead over Fenty overall, but the poll also showed Gray has more support among black residents while the city's white residents overwhelmingly support Fenty.

Gray promoted his "one city" effort to bring all groups of the city together.

Fenty said he has completed several projects east of the Anacostia River in the city's predominantly black communities. "Why do people still have qualms about my campaign? It's my fault," he said, adding that he has to do a better job of informing residents of his record.

Fenty also said he has to do a better job of convincing constituents that he listens to them before making decisions.

Sherwood hit Fenty with some of the harsh descriptions that had been leveled against him: "jerk" and "bonehead." During Fenty's explanation, Sherwood brought how some had described him as being "mean." Fenty accused Sherwood of interrupting him.

The candidates ended the debate with closing statements that appeared to appeal to bases they are trying to lock down.

Fenty said he's the candidate who would keep schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.
Gray said he has a plan to tackle unemployment.

"Like anyone else, I've made my share of mistakes," Fenty said. "Going forward I'll learn from them and be more inclusive which will make me a better mayor."

By  |  01:24 PM ET, 08/18/2010

Categories:  2010 District Election

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