(CNN) - How much is too much? Government spending and reducing the deficit were the major themes of the second Kentucky Senate debate on Monday between Democratic candidate Jack Conway and Republican candidate Rand Paul.
Conway, the state's attorney general, spent the majority of the debate attacking Paul's positions on cutting government programs.
He criticized Paul's views on minimum wage requirements, Social Security funding and his proposal of a $2,000 deductible for Medicare recipients.
Paul, an eye surgeon and the son of Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, defended his positions on cutting government spending as vital to reducing the deficit.
Invoking the memory of the late President Ronald Reagan, Paul made a push for smaller government. "We can't simply stick our head in the sand and say 'We have to keep passing out checks because that's what we're supposed to do,'" Paul said.
Conway touted his own record on budgetary issues, saying "I've balanced my budget eight times as state attorney general."
As in the previous Senate debate, Paul focused on painting his opponent as a "career politician," saying, "I'm proud of being an outsider."
Paul, a Tea Party-backed candidate, repeatedly tied Conway to Obama administration policies such as the stimulus bill, bank bailouts and health care.
"This election is not about President Obama," Conway said in response, "This is about Jack Conway and Rand Paul."
Conway insisted that he is an "independent Democrat," who isn't afraid to break with his party on key issues, including the surge in Afghanistan, extending the Bush tax cuts and lowering the estate tax.
Paul hit back, saying Conway was a "flip-flopper" in his views on Bush-era tax cuts and the estate tax, and challenged him to "Step up and be a man, take a chance, say you're for something."
Recent polling shows Conway is eroding Paul's lead in the battle for retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning's seat.