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Baker, Coakley Face Off In Gubernatorial Debate In Worcester

BOSTON (CBS) - State Attorney General Martha Coakley has never smoked marijuana. Her opponent Charlie Baker admitted he has.

That contrast came out in an unusual and sometimes comical exchange at the end of their hour-long gubernatorial debate at Worcester's Hanover Theatre Monday night.

That same exchange revealed that neither candidate for governor believes the sale of marijuana should be legal nationwide.

Earlier in the discussion, the two revisited topics they have debated before. Democrat Coakley, for example, again criticized Baker for nearly tripling his salary during his time as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim. Baker responded by saying that voters are tired of hearing attacks like that, which he said discourage people from going into public service in the first place.

The candidates also sparred over the issues of taxation and spending. Republican Baker charged that Coakley needs to "get out of the office more" if she truly thinks the state economy is improving. He says he has heard from voters who are tired of being "nickeled and dimed" by the state's current system.

Baker also went out of his way to criticize the state's troubled Healthcare Connected website, which Coakley agreed was a failure.

Only the two front-runners were allowed to take part in Monday night's debate, unlike the earlier WBZ-sponsored debate which featured all five contenders. United Independent Party candidate Evan Falchuk sued the organizers of the Worcester debate in an attempt to be included, but a judge ruled against him shortly before the event began.

New England Cable News, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Telegram & Gazette and the Hanover Theatre organized the debate on Monday night.


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