Hutchinson, Beebe Spar over Rural Schools at Second Debate

OCTOBER 5, 2006 - Posted at 7:40 a.m. CDT

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - Democrat Mike Beebe and Republican Asa Hutchinson faced off over rural schools, immigration and taxes last night, as the gubernatorial hopefuls met for their second debate.

Hutchinson blamed the lengthy bus rides that some students from the now-closed rural Paron High School face on Beebe's opposition to a measure that would have eased curriculum standards for certain schools.

Beebe replied that the decision to close the rural district was a local decision, and accused Hutchinson of misleading voters.  Beebe said he doesn't want students to ride the bus for hours, but that children in all schools should receive a quality education.

More than 200 people attended the debate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville's Division of Continuing Education.  The debate was the second of three arranged by Beebe and Hutchinson's gubernatorial campaigns.  The first was held last month in Jonesboro at Arkansas State University's Fowler Center, and was televised by KAIT.

The two candidates will debate again October 17 in Little Rock.

Green Party nominee Jim Lendall and independent candidate Rod Bryan, who were both excluded from the event, spent the debate outside the auditorium hall.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)