Bolsonaro, Lula trade jabs in Brazil debate

Sparks flew Sunday as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro accused leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of massive corruption -- and drew accusations of "destroying Brazil" in return -- as they faced off in their first election debate.

The two front-runners, who waited until the last minute to confirm they would attend the first televised debate ahead of October's elections, wasted no time in attacking each other.

Bolsonaro called Lula a "thief" in his opening salvo of the three-hour clash, pummeling the 76-year-old ex-president over the massive "Car Wash" corruption scandal centered on state-run oil giant Petrobras.

The investigation landed Lula in prison from 2018 to 2019 on controversial corruption charges -- annulled by the Supreme Court last year.

"Your government was the most corrupt in Brazilian history," said Bolsonaro, 67, rattling off figures from the scandal in a rapid-fire attack.

"It was a kleptocracy, a government based on robbery.... What do you want to come back to power for? To do the same thing to Petrobras again?"

Lula fired back that Bolsonaro was spreading "untruths" -- one of several exchanges in which they accused each other of lying. He in turn accused the incumbent of trashing his legacy of economic growth and anti-poverty initiatives.

"This country has been destroyed," Lula said in his trademark gravelly voice, attacking Bolsonaro over increased poverty and hunger, soaring prices and a surge in destruction in the Amazon rainforest.

Dressing the part in dark suits and ties -- striped blue for Bolsonaro, burgundy red for Lula -- the front-runners had numerous fiery exchanges, but hewed to the rules and kept their demeanor relatively civilized.

However, tension erupted into the...

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