He also urged her on LGBTQ+ issues and about her position on abortion buffer zones.
He said the finance minister went too far in her criticism on Tuesday.
“We only gain support for our cause when we work together as a team. But what unfortunately happened in the last TV debate, Kate, is that you basically gave our opponents so much ammunition to attack us with.”
Ms Forbes told the health secretary that any future would first have to deal with “much worse than we’ve had to deal with through this competition”.
“They have to stand up to the British government, they have to stand up to the opposition and they will be accountable to the people of Scotland who want answers and competent implementation of the results.”
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During the debate in Glasgow, the three candidates were asked about their personal beliefs and how they would affect their ability to govern.
Earlier in the campaign, Ms Forbes – a member of the social-conservative Free Church of Scotland – bled bloody support when she said she would not have voted for equal marriage had she been in Parliament in 2014.
Mr Yousaf said: “What people need to do, what they want from their First Minister, is that they can look that person in the eye and really believe that that person doesn’t believe that they are morally inferior, that they have their rights will protect, they will assert their rights.
“And I’m the only candidate who has said in no uncertain terms that he will protect everyone.”
He also questioned a comment made by Ms Forbes at a previous husting on abortion buffer zones.
“When Kate was asked that question at a recent hustings, you said ‘with poise,'” he said.
“What I don’t understand is what you mean by this balance?”
He added: “I think it’s right to ask what you mean by that balance, would you allow prayer vigils for example?”
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In response, Ms Forbes lashed out at the Health Secretary, saying: “This is an example where we see another candidate trying to poke holes and trying to undermine the honest and solemn pledges that I have made.
“It boils down to a question of honesty – does Humza take my word for it when I say I will uphold these legal protections and support buffer zones, won’t it?”
Speaking to journalists after the debate, Ms Forbes said claims by the health secretary that he would not “sling mud” in the lead race had “disintegrated”.
After Tuesday’s debate sparked a backlash from MSPs and ministers, with reports suggesting many would not serve in her cabinet, Ms Forbes said she had “great confidence in SNP members” and that MPs needed to see the outcome of the respect voting.
“Ultimately, every elected representative is as accountable to industry members and SNP members as we are to our constituents. So I think questions are raised when an elected representative does not respect the choice made by SNP members.”
When asked about a call from Shona Robison for more “transparency” about her views on abortion, Ms Forbes said she had “answered more questions about abortion than probably anyone in her life”.
“So I think there’s a lot of transparency there.”
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Mr Yousaf denied claims that he was making a personal attack. “I was just making sure they got their policy clear, I think that’s really important. Which I will never engage in mud fights or personal attacks. I just wouldn’t do that.”
“We are all part of the same party, we must all be part of a team, no matter what the outcome on March 27, so we don’t break the SNP record in government.
“It’s a record that has brought us tremendous support, both as a party and as a movement, and it’s interesting to see that those candidates who shattered our record on Tuesday have taken that back.”
He said it was likely due to pressure from disgruntled party members.
Meanwhile, Ms Regan also questioned Mr Yousaf’s tone in the televised debate, saying he was a bit personal.
“He’s said that on other occasions and now he’s kind of going back to doing it himself. But I think it’s difficult. People are there to win it.
“Everyone wants to come across as the best and point out flaws in the approach to the other candidates.
“And so I suppose it’s to be expected. It’s probably still not as brutal as a Tory leadership contest.”
https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/23376146.humza-yousafs-no-mudslinging-vow-disintegrated-says-kate-forbes/?ref=rss Humza Yousaf’s vow not to have a mud fight has “fallen apart,” says Kate Forbes