In a steamy American Legion Hall, McGlowan of Oxford accused Nunnelee supporters of perpetrating a smear campaign against her, and Ross of Eupora repeated urged voters to reject "career politicians," with Nunnelee the only one who's held lengthy public office.
"I was told by some elected officials not to run - that it was Alan Nunnelee's turn," said McGlowan, a black former Fox News commentator. "They're saying I want to take guns away from white people. But here I stand and here I'll stay."
Nunnelee, a 16-year state senator from Tupelo, ignored her remarks. Later in the evening he said he'd not support term limits for Congress, saying he trusted the people of Mississippi, who twice soundly defeated term-limits amendments during the 1990s.
The primary winner will face incumbent U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Booneville, on the Nov. 2 general election ballot with seven other independent and non-mainstream political party nominees for the 1st District seat.
Ross, a former mayor and George W. Bush administration worker, praised the event's Tupelo Tea Party sponsors, saying, "We've lost freedom all over this country." He vowed to be a conservative fighter in Congress to bring those freedoms back.
Nunnelee, a businessman generally regarded as the race's front-runner, showed little reaction and voiced no response to McGlowan's other accusations that he repeatedly raised taxes as a legislator, breaking his promise not to do so.
The fast-paced question-and-answer session touched on topics important to the Tea Party crowd, fed up with big government and liberal policymaking - health care reform, private-industry bailouts, gun rights, taxation, opposition to abortion, immigration, America's global military presence, support for Israel, energy policy and offshore drilling, and the environment.
Eighty-year-old Bob Taylor, a stump-grinder from Plantersville, termed the trio "three peas out of the same pod" after the 90-minute event.
But, he said he thought McGlowan and Ross "are ahead of Nunnelee" on the issues.
"He's a politician," Taylor said. "We need people who aren't schooled in politics."
Taylor and the candidates agreed about something: They believe liberal Supreme Court justices should be impeached if they legislate from the bench.
Throughout the debate, the candidates made predictably conservative answers to the questions. They stood up for gun rights, said they'd repeal the new health care law and swore to cut taxes, support the unborn, reject the welfare system, fight illegal immigration, keep drilling for oil and be rationally concerned about the environment.
In a rapid-fire one-minute Qamp&A, they were asked:
- What constitutional amendment would you add, if you could? McGlowan - people to respect each other. Nunnelee - life defined to begin at conception. Ross - marriage defined as between one man and one woman.
- Do you support term limits? McGlowan and Nunnelee - no. Ross - yes.
- Will you read every bill before voting for it? All - yes.
- When is it appropriate for government to take over an industry? All - never.
- What if Israel goes to war with Iran, over U.S. objections? All - support Israel.
n Who is your role model or mentor? McGlowan - her father. Nunnelee - Jesus Christ. Ross - Ronald Reagan.
- Do you agree that the federal government can take private land through imminent domain proceedings? All - no.
- What federal department would you abolish, if you could? McGlowan - Education, Commerce and Energy. Nunnelee - Use the Yellow Pages. If a service is offered there, the government ought not to be doing it. Ross - Energy, Education.
- Should the U.S. continue to support the United Nations? McGlowan, Ross - no. Nunnelee - doesn't think it's ever wrong to talk about differences, would make other countries pay their share.
- Will you give straight answers, if elected? All - yes.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com.