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Mo. governor candidates focus on economy in debate

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican challenger Dave Spence offer different takes on the state's economy during their first debate.

Speaking at the Missouri Press Association's debate Friday in Columbia, St. Louis Republican businessman Dave Spence says the state is languishing in most economic measures. He called for limiting liability lawsuits and making Missouri a ``right to work'' state, in which union dues cannot be collected as a condition of employment. Spence says it seems Missouri is running into an iceberg.

Nixon is seeking a second term and defended his record. He pointed to his efforts to boost the automotive industry and touted last month's rise in state payrolls. Nixon says Missouri is showing progress, thanks to fiscal discipline and focusing on industries where the state can have an impact.