Economic issues dominated Monday night's Connecticut Senate debate between Democratic nominee and state attorney Richard Blumenthal and Republican nominee Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
The candidates butted heads over taxes, job creation and spending.
Blumenthal accused McMahon wanting to "lower the minimum wage," an attack he has used in campaign ads.
"That's a lie." McMahon said in rebuttal, a phrase she reiterated several times as Blumenthal returned to the subject.
Citing her record in the private sector, McMahon touted her skills in job creation, at one point asking Blumenthal "How many jobs have you created?"
Blumenthal quickly noted the layoffs that occurred during McMahon's tenure at WWE, while promoting his career in public service.
On taxes, Blumenthal said McMahon would "take us back to the policies that led us to these [economic] problems," adding that he "would give a middle class tax cut now without holding it hostage with tax cuts for the wealthy."
McMahon said that she did not want to raise taxes on anyone "in a time of recession."
Blumenthal was asked about past misstatements he made regarding his service in the Vietnam war - statements which resurfaced in a McMahon attack ad hours before the debate.
He apologized for the statements, saying, "I regret it. I take full responsibility for it."
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee issued statements in response to the debate.
Read the DSCC statement:
“Tonight’s debate presented Connecticut voters with a stark study in contrasts. On one hand is crusading Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has stood up to the special interests, and stood up for the people of Connecticut for decades. Blumenthal has taken on big drug and insurance companies to rein in costs, big energy companies when they tried to develop a plant in the waters off Connecticut, and forced Internet predators off of sites like Facebook and Myspace. He’ll take this same Connecticut-first attitude to the U.S. Senate."
“On the other side is Linda McMahon, who made a fortune selling sex and violence to children, while steroid abuse at her company ran rampant under her watch. As a candidate for office, McMahon has tried to whitewash her record of lobbying in Washington and in Connecticut for tax breaks for herself. She even didn’t know what the current minimum wage is, but said she’s completely open to lowering it. Tonight’s debate did nothing to change the fact that McMahon was a bad CEO, and would make an even worse U.S. Senator for Connecticut middle-class families and small businesses.”
Read the NRSC statement:
"Voters in Connecticut saw a clear contrast tonight between Dick Blumenthal, who advocated for bigger government and more spending, and successful businesswoman Linda McMahon, who will fight for lower taxes and rein in out-of-control spending in order to help spur job creation during our nation’s current economic crisis."
"It’s clear that if voters in Connecticut want more of the same in Washington, they should vote for Dick Blumenthal. But if voters want a political outsider who will shake up the status quo in our nation’s capital and fight for their best interests, they should elect Linda McMahon to the U.S. Senate.”
The Senate debate took place as recent polling indicates the race is now a dead heat.
A Quinnipiac University survey released last week showed McMahon trailing Blumenthal 49 to 46 percent among likely voters, with 4 percent undecided. Blumenthal's 3-point advantage was within the poll's sampling error, and down from a 6-point margin in a Quinnipiac survey conducted last month.
Nine percent of the respondents who named a candidate said they may change their minds by the November election. According to the poll, McMahon held a five-point advantage among independent voters, a switch from two weeks ago when independents were split evenly between the two candidates.
- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.