Wicker, Musgrove: High stakes set tone for critical ads

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - U.S. Senate candidates Roger Wicker and

Ronnie Musgrove acknowledged tonight that the advertising in their

high-stakes contest is negative -- but neither took responsibility

for the harsh tone.

During a debate televised statewide, they said national party

committees are pumping big money into the race to fill Trent Lott's

old seat, and the committees' spending is beyond their control.

The candidates attacked each other's records in office, and each

said the other is fiscally irresponsible. They agreed on several

issues, such as their opposition to the financial bailout approved

by the U.S. House and Senate.

Both said country needs a new energy policy. Wicker said he

wants to expand domestic oil drilling, but Musgrove provided few

specific ideas about how to bring down the price of gasoline.

The election is November 4. The winner will fill the final four

years of a six-year term.

When Lott retired last December to become a lobbyist, Governor

Haley Barbour moved Wicker from the U.S. House to temporarily fill

the Senate seat. Musgrove was a one-term governor who was defeated

by Barbour in 2003.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)