Final Brazilian presidential debate focuses on absent leader

Brazilian presidential candidates pose for a photo before a live, televised debate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, ahead of Oct. 7 general elections. From left are Henrique Meirelles of the Democratic Movement Party, Alvaro Dias of Podemos Party, Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party, Guilherme Boulos of the Socialism and Liberty Party, Geraldo Alckmin of the Social Democratic Party, Marina Silva of the Sustainability Network Party and Fernando Haddad of the Worker's Party. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The main target of participants in the final and most-watched presidential debate in Brazil has been the absent front-runner, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro skipped the TV Globo debate Thursday, citing doctor’s orders after being stabbed during a campaign event on Sept. 6 and only leaving the hospital on Saturday. Instead, he gave an interview to TV Record at the same time.

Second place candidate Fernando Haddad, who was hand-picked by jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, attacked Bolsonaro’s record as a lawmaker.

Third place Ciro Gomes said the electing the far-right hopeful would be like dancing near an abyss.

Leftist Guilherme Boulos said he feared a new military dictatorship would begin with a Bolsonaro presidency.

Bolsonaro’s support in polls is nearing 40 percent ahead of Sunday’s election.

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