D.C. Council member Marion Barry stumbled over his words while Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten stumbled over his facts during a 15-minute debate Tuesday night on the Fox 5 10 p.m. newscast.
Barry and Moten, both of whom have emerged as sideshows in the mayor's race, clashed with each other over their support for their favored candidates in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.
Barry, a supporter of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, argued that "thousands" of residents are now "disappointed and disgusted" with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration.
"He promised a clean government, that we were not going to have this culture of corruption," said Barry, noting that he supported Fenty in 2006.
Moten, largely sticking to Fenty's talking points on the campaign trail, countered that the mayor deserves a second term because he is getting "results."
"Adrian Fenty has made some mistakes, just like Marion Barry has made some mistakes," Moten said in an apparent reference to Barry's arrest on drug charges in 1990. "I am kind of surprised that Marion wouldn't agree to forgive someone who has changed the city."
Moten said Fenty has built new grocery stores, schools, recreation centers, libraries and affordable housing units in Ward 8 since he took office. Moten, an ex-offender who mentors at-risk youth to try to prevent gang violence, cited gains at Ballou High school in Congress Heights as proof that the city has progressed under Fenty.
"Our children are happy. Our parents are happy," Moten said. "We demonize this man who has made some mistakes, but Marion has made a lot of mistakes and we forgave him."
Struggling throughout the debate to formulate his thoughts into words, Barry responded by asking, "What about the people?"
"You talk recreational centers. What about jobs for the parents of the children who go to recreational centers?" Barry asked. "What about housing? ... What about the minority business program? ... He manages by press conference as opposed to managing."
From there, the debate largely veered toward the gutter.
Barry repeatedly implied that Fenty was responsible for Harriette Walters being able to steal nearly $50 million from the D.C. Tax Office. Walters, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison last year, stole most of her money from 2001 to 2007, before Fenty was mayor.
Moten, meanwhile, stated at least twice that Gray gave "$500 million" in city contracts to his friends, which appears to be untrue.
Under tough questioning from Brian Bolter, the Fox 5 anchor, Moten also was forced to respond to accusations that he is one Fenty's "cronies."
"Let me ask you, Ron," the anchor asked. "Are you getting millions of dollars from Mayor Fenty and simply preserving your interests by campaigning for him?"
Moten, whose organization has received at least $10 million since from the city since Fenty took office, responded he's "worked hard" with little pay for years.
"For nine years, I was almost a bum on the street," Moten said. "My grandmother kept telling me, 'Why do you keep on working hard for the city and you get nothing in return?' Mayor Fenty did not start supporting me. Anthony Williams started supporting me."
Later, Bolter asked Barry about concerns from some voters that a Gray administration would resemble the type of government Barry ran when he was mayor in the 1980s and 1990s.
"I don't buy that. I had an outstanding government," Barry said. "Vincent Gray and I have a forward vision for the city."
In one of the stranger moments of the debate, Moten suggested that Gray made his grandmother cry by releasing a campaign ad that refers to Moten as a crony.