Ford predicts ’knockout’ in first televised debate of Toronto mayoral campaign

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s ready for tonight’s first televised debate in this year’s mayoral campaign — and jokes that he’s expecting to win by a knockout.

TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s ready for tonight’s first televised debate in this year’s mayoral campaign — and jokes that he’s expecting to win by a knockout.

When asked today for his prediction about the debate with the top four challengers for his job, Ford laughingly responded “a knockout in the first 15 seconds.”

The scandal-plagued mayor is facing off against former M-P Olivia Chow, former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, city councillor Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki, who are all hoping to unseat him in the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Ford said while they will likely focus on transit as their key issue during the debate, he believes taxes and “people’s pocketbooks are No. 1.”

He says he plans to talk about his platform and his record as mayor, but is looking forward to hearing what the other candidates have to say.

The two-hour debate is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on CityNews as well as live-streamed online.

The network says viewers will be able to vote on the candidates’ performances during the show on its website or by texting or tweeting.

Ford’s admission that he has used crack cocaine, along with an ongoing police investigation into his connections to alleged drug dealers, have loomed over his re-election campaign.

The mayor maintains he does not have substance abuse problems and has not committed any crime.

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