Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) – Both sides landed some punches, but there didn't seem to be a knockout in the high stakes debate between Sen. Harry Reid and Sharron Angle Thursday night.
Still, Reid said at one point Angle had gone too far in attacking his wealth, calling it a "low blow."
In one of most intense Senate contests nationwide, the two candidates sparred over everything from whose job it is to create jobs to illegal immigration to possible privatization of the Veterans Administration to past voting records during their intense 60-minute debate.
Reid, the four-term veteran, is locked in a a bitter fight with Angle trying to hang onto his seat. Polls show the race as neck-and-neck with the election less than three weeks away.
The sharpest exchange between the two came during a question about whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended for everyone which Angle supports but which Reid does not.
"The tax cuts need to be made permanent," Angle told Reid. And with voting for over 300 tax increases, senator, we can't trust you with taxes. Not only that, you came from Searchlight [Reid's hometown] to the Senate with very little. Now you're one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate. Now on behalf of Nevada taxpayers, I would like to know, we would like to know, how did you become so wealthy on a government payroll?" she asked.
Reid shot back, "That's really kind of a low blow. I think most everyone knows, I was a very successful lawyer. I did a very good job of investing. I have been on a very fixed income since I came to Washington. I've lived off of what I made in the private sector.
"I put my five kids through 100 semesters of school, and I paid for every penny of it. So her suggestion that I made money being a senator is simply false, and I'm really disappointed that she would suggest that. I will further say, if she wants tax cuts made permanent for everybody, we have a deficit problem to worry about, also - $4 trillion it would cost to have these tax cuts extended in the future. That's quite a load, $4 trillion," he said.
The two went back and forth several times over Social Security and some of Angle's past statements supporting privatization, which Reid called "extreme." That has been a consistent theme of attack by Reid and his campaign.
"Social Security is a promise we have to keep. It takes care of seniors in their golden years. That's why I worked so hard to protect Social Security," Reid said.
"Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand we have a problem with Social Security," Angle told him, saying now that she has more information she has changed her mind on privatization. She said the government should offer private retirement accounts as are offered to federal employees.
Angle argued that because the program is running out of money, quicker than earlier anticipated changes need to be made, and accused Reid of earlier supporting taking money out of it to help deal with the deficit.
"These ideas of my opponent are really extreme. I said CBO (Congessional Budget Office) and acturials said there is plenty of money in that trust fund account. During the Clinton years we didn't use that money to offset the deficit. We were strengthening Social Security by not using it to offset the deficit. Her facts are absolutely wrong," Reid said.
"We are in the red now," Angle said. "If we don't do something to fix this, by 2037 anyone by 40 years of age will not be receiving benefits from the money they paid from paycheck after paycheck."
Displaying their divergent views over regulation, the two candidates disagreed over whether insurance companies should be mandated to offer such items as mammograms. As a state assemblywoman, Angle did not support a bill requiring companies to offer such coverage.
"What we have is a choice between free market and Americanism... America is about choices," she said, arguing it should be an issue left up to the private sector.
"Let the people decide where they want to buy their insurance," Angle said.
Reid countered, "Insurance companies don't do it out of the goodness of their hearts. We need them to be forced to do mammograms."
Just hours after the debate the Reid campaign was up with an ad attacking Angle over her position on this as the two camps battle over independent voters.
Reid was put on the defensive about the state's dire economy and why didn't the Obama Administration and Congress first tackle unemployment and mortgage problems before tacking health care. Nevada leads the nation in unemployment at 14.4% as well as in foreclosures. He pointed to a mortgage fraud bill passed last year and said the health care reform not only improved lives but created jobs. Angle was pushed on her prior statement that it was not a Senator's job to create jobs which Reid has attacked. She said it was a senator's job to help create an atmosphere where the private sector has what it needs to hire.
During the debate – broadcast statewide – neither candidate seemed to commit any major gaffe, which they have been known to do in the past. At times both seemed to struggle to clearly answer various questions. It comes at a key time in the campaign with early voting set to start on Saturday. In 2008 58 percent of those who voted did so early. Both campaigns don't expect the number to be that high, but it could be 40 percent or so.
The reason Social Security is running out of money is because they put it in the general fund. If any other company "borrowed" against the retirement accounts, they would be in court. If Social Security had been left alone in a separate fund as it was set up, there would have been plenty of money to go around. This is another incidence of politicians' greed.
I think Angle should be careful about criticizing Reid's wealth. She's talking about pretty much everyone in Congress with a comment like that. I can't think of anyone who's not a millionaire.
The private sectors greed with the deregulation is what put this country in the mess it is in now.
The wealthy get richer and the poor get poorer. Angle is a moron.
Sharron Angle needs some serious help. Maybe some therapy would help her distinqush between FACT and Fantasy.
I don't care who you are. Telling the Senate Majority Leader to "man up" is a gross disrespect to this nation. Sharron Angle is a despicable person.
The country can do without either of those two,Unfortunatley the people of Nevada need Reid and his position of power to help them. The country will be better off without him and if indivdual Senators [Male] have the cojones they will remove Reid as the Senate Leader. If she wins they can let her clean the rest rooms,that is about as much power/leverage she will have as a JUNIOR SENATOR.
The Tea Party's biggest concern is the deficit but they're not willing to make the hard choices to fix it? Spending cuts alone won't fix it. Did Bush not prove that tax cut for the wealthy get us nowhere? 20% of Americans own 85% of America's wealth. They need tax cuts? And please, leave us to the mercy of health insurance companies? Does she have ANY concern for the middle or "working" classes?
funny...most media sources say Angle won the debate; however, he's left-leaning CNN...citing otherwise. The liberal media is but one of many things that will change come the resurrection of true Americans in November. After conservatives take back the country, we're going to work on the media; starting with what the word "truth," means.
She wants to privatize the Vetrans Administration, wow I am sure that would do so well.
Angle's radical statements and stances were all, according to her, distorted or taken out of context, while there are tapes, videos of her pushing her irresponsible beliefs. Reid should have questioned her on her saying the millions she has gotten just recently in campaign funds were made by a majority of individual people when in fact she is getting questionable, outside sponsorship by republican related organizations.
Voters, we cannot allow our elections to be bought.
Get out and vote and let the world know the people will prevail.
Angle is an idiot and totally unqualified to be a Senator. Nevada needs to step back and realize what they would
be giving up if they vote their Senator with his tenure and experience. Damn Tea Party is going to kill the Republican
Party and for what?
Harry's right on about insurance companies; they don't do procedures out of the "goodness of their hearts". We need to force more preventative care, not wait until people are sick and need costly procedures. As long as insurance is "for profit" I wonder who wins? Yes, of course insurance lobbyists attack this bill. As for it being unconstitutional to force people to have coverage? Why isn't it unconstitutional to force those who are insured to pay for those who aren't when they need to use emergency care? This cost gets passed to everyone in the form of higher premiums; that doesn't piss anyone off? And, not everyone who is uninsured is an illegal alien, so get off that soapbox. I know families who simply can't afford their coverage anymore and they are tax paying citizens. Angle is clueless and just another airhead.
I watched most of the debate on C-SPAN and
OMG! My favorite part was when Angle said "MAN UP HARRY REID!" I was on the floor laughing. You could tell that someone gave her that line and she had been waiting all night for the designated time to use it. She was scripted to be outrageous while Harry Reid was just the staight man on stage. Angle was just unleashing soundbites. The contrast between the two was highly entertaining.
OH oh and the parts where Angle denied all those crazy things she said and tried make it like Harry Reid is the one who put those comments and crazy ideas out of context...was also very funny. I was like "HELLO you are on VIDEO TAPE! fOR THE LOVE OF GOD don't these people know we can watch it and laugh at it at any time?!?
even though there was no real winner of the debate last night but Reid still appeared to be the better candidate
The capitaism system of supply and demand is not working. The repugs want to give more tax break money to corporations but theyre still not hiring because mainstreat dont have any money to creat demand. So they are looking for demand over seas creating jobs and industries in china and leaving mainstreet out of the loop. Why in hell repugs are cutting goverment jobs and programs that the people use to creat demand in the local econmy which lead to jobs and demand in mainstreet.
Angle speaks like she has CRAMPS – it is very difficult to hear her point CLEARLY. Reading it is much better than HEARING IT! Still, she does not EXCITE ME at all. I DO NOT want to hear that WHINING VOICE – along with PALIN and O'Donnell – it's NOT Professional!!
Reid did okay and I am rallying around him because he is part of my BASE!!! He will win in November 2010!!
This is T'SAH from Virginia and I approve this message!
Sharron angle all I hear from REPUBLICAN is Obama making the deficit to high,but you REPUBLICAN want too keep the tax break for everyone. IT will cost 4 TRILLIONS DOLLARS too keep the tax break for everyone,but that okay for you REPUBLICAN because it help BIG BUSINESS and the VERY RICH two out of three thing REPUBLICAN worry about the post. If we don't have someone start paying taxes how are we going to get the deficit down.If I make over 250'000k a year I wouldn't mind paying a little bit more in taxes. And the people 55 years old or older been paying out of each week all their life they have the right too have Social Security,and if the Government didn't borrow from it there be plenty of money in SOCIAL SECURITY. Harry Reid may not be great,but you Sharron Angle are WORST you are very UNQUALIFIED to be a U.S.Senate.