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.
Angle is a hypocrite. She wants to do away with Medicare and Social security. She also wants to let Insurance companies and Big banks regulate themselves and out of the goodness of their heart everything will turn out fine. She is living in La La land if you think Big Banks and Insurance companies are driven by anything but money and power...
"Man up, Harry Reid!"
All I can say is, "Viva Las Vegas, baby!"
Angle wiped the floor with Reid. He is toast after this debate but from now untill election Reid's campaign will try to smear her with lies and typical Dem attacks. Reid has nothing to run on, and nothing positive to add to the debate about the future.
Fear and smear is all the Dems have left.
Harry looked and sounded lame, like the career politician he is.............it is way past time for change! Harry go with dignity.........concede now!!!!
Angle lands a low blow? To land a low blow on Harry Reid you would have to dig a tunnel and come up from underneath! Reid is a passive-aggressive, pseudo-intellectual posing as a progressive ideologue. He is a house-of-cards and ready to fall.
Harry's votes over the past 23 years have brought us to this point of economic disaster. It's time for him to go.
Go Angle! Reid has betrayed the average American and has lost touch. He, Pelosi and eventually the economic fascist !arrak Hussein Obama need to be voted out of office. Vivia free ewntewrprise and personal responsibility!
Harry trounced that clown. A serious candidate could beat him, but Angle is a joke.
Ms. Angle wants tax cut permanent for the rich, has she forgotten, the tax cut for the rich 2% is still in effect and we are loosing jobs? If we continue in this path, government will add additional $1 Trillion debt to already weak economy and she want to assist cutting the deficit, really Ms. Angle? Since tax cut for the wealthiest 2% Americans has shown negative report, can we try ending it and extend it to the other 98% of Americans. Question; if you keep doing the same old thing, you get same old result. Why would you plant grapes every time and hope for an apple tree? That's the republican's agenda; keep doing same stuff and tell the country to trust them for different out come.
Sorry Harry, but she, like Sarah Palin, doesn't understand the issues and retains too little information to effectively debate so the best she can do is issue canned and well-practiced insults.
TOP Notch bunch of candidates the tea baggers/GOP have decided to run in this election.
Watching for a while last night, I was astounded to hear that the Angles are both on federal and state pension and health care benefits!.....I'm guessing that since he was a federal gov't employee and she was a teacher, that they are pulling down $50,000 each year in pension benefits... Add their rich health care package benefits and we, as taxpayers, as paying the angles richly for their work.....could she be so self-serving as to get rid of social security because she and her husband are NOT on social security but rather on the same rich benefits as reid..........little can be said for angle and the republican party other than that they are flat out LIARS........she wants everything privatized OTHER than her rich benfits
This is a scary race for the country. On one hane, Reid is a Pelosi puppet. As senate majority leader he can direct the entire agenda of the senate so the country needs hime out of there. On the other hand, Sharon Angle is just scary. She has moved toward the center for the general election season, but she won't compromise and work in a bi-partisan fashion if she wins. However, she wouldn't be majority leader anyway.
I guess I hope she wins. I can't stand Reid and his pork loving ways..,.
I do not trust Angle; if I were a Nevadan I would not vote for her. She attempted to portray herself as a mainstream candidate by trying to indicate that she has changed her position on several points. She also used the same rethoric about issues with HCR and social security. Reid was more to the facts and focused more on his accomplishements.
However, I would say that Angle did a better job to connect the audience yesterday, and thay might have had a positive impact on the way voters view her now.
She's an Idiot and it shows every time she opens her mouth!!!
Republicans have threatened to repeal health insurance reform and privatize Social Security. They've threatened to eliminate the Department of Education and dismantle the EPA. Sharon Angle and others like her have said that unemployment insurance is "uncontitutional". They've called for boycotting the Census and shutting down the government. They want to repeal new reforms that will keep wall street investors and bankers from ruining our economy again. Now GOP candidates across the country are talking about rolling back - or eliminating - the minimum wage. Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Joe Miller in Alaska, Rand Paul in Kentucky, John Raese in West Virginia, and Dino Rossi in Washington, Sharon Angle in Nevada, Michelle Bachman in Minnesota are a few of these extremists.
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.
That's nice, but how did you really make all of that wealth? Let's be a bit more specific. You've been in the Senate a long time, plus you've had a long career in politics. So, tell us again where you made your money and how.
That woman is a vile, dispicable, hateful bigot. How anyone in their right mind could vote for her is beyond me.
Good question Sharon. How do they all get so rich? The Clintons arrived in DC looking like Grannie and Uncle Jed but are now millionaires. None of this is ever about what's good for the country. If you couldn't get rich being in government I guarantee you things would be better. They wouldn't be handing out money to special interests to buy thier votes. Both sides are guilty. I'd rather have "crazies" like Sharon Angle and the witch lady than these crooks we have now. Because they have to do so much to hold on to power is the reason Americans hardly get along anymore.
has mrs angle commented on how horrific her gov't run health care has been all these years?... how is she dealing with those gov't health care death panels?.... her and her husband's federal employee and teachers government pensions are TOO RICH for what America can afford at this time ..... America needs to cut back on the angles rich pension plans totaling $100,000 annually and let current federal employees keep more of their money
It is so obvious that outside forces are funding her campaign. Citizens of Nevada should be able to see this lady has no clue. She has been poorly coached on issues. Remember, Angle thinks unemployment benefits are entitlements. Angle wants women who have been raped to have the child if impregnated. Why would you vote for such a cluelss person -
I watched two debates last night one is Nevada senate and Tennessee us congressional 6th district
Sharron Angle attacking mode she doesn’t want to give solid answers sad
Both debates republicans ready to through any thing to win the election but they don’t have single clue what they will do if they win the election. Good part republicans candidates gave lot of ammunitions (own words) to democrats in future it will start fire at republicans
She has a valid point, Ried became a multi millionaire while being a senator, he admits, he became rich due to "good investments", how convinient, since he's in charge of regulating Wall Street.
Do the right thing Nevada, send that old crook into retirement.
Sharon Angle is still an extreme radial,right wing Republican that is not playing with a full deck. She doesn't let facts get in her way when she is talking about a subject. Hope the people of Nevada are smart enough not to elect her.
If Sherry Angle will make it to the Senate floor, I will never come back to America. How can anyone elect such a total pinhead like Angle! I can not find anything good she has said to compliment her!
Kind of a lackluster debate. Angle stumbled, but so did Reid. If it weren't for the fact that Angle holds some pretty indefensible positions, Reid would be in even worse trouble. But the thing that caught my attention was the discussion of whose job it is to create jobs. Harry thinks it's government's job to create jobs, Angle does not. I'll have to think about that one for a while...