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 won by a landslide! Senator Reid should have been in the drivers seat in this debate but he has driven the car off the cliff so he had no real positions to fall back on to make people feel like he was working for them! He is an old Dem Croney that needs to be fired!! And by the way Reid, SS is running out of money!! It is time to fix it now before the fix hurts people worse.. Look at Europe grappling with their SS issues – they are raising the benefits age because they are going broke.. It is unpopular but we do need to fix SS rather than sticking our head in the sand like Reid....
Whats even more absurd than Angle's positions is the fact that she is up in the polls! I can't believe she is even close! Reid may not be the most popular guy, and for legitimate reasons, but to assume that putting Angle in the Senate for 6 years is somehow a better option is just absolutely crazy. And dangerous.
I really cannot understand how anyone with more than a 1st grade education can support Ms. Angle. Throughout her CAREER (yes career, folks) as a state assembly member, she often took stands so extreme that many votes were often 102 to Angle. I offer this to the people in Nevada. During her entire legislative career, what has she done to create jobs?
Angle just does not get it. I have absolutely no sympathy for the people of Nevada whining about their one trick pony economy. Their economy is totally built on gaming which is dependent on people's discretionary income WHICH THEY DON'T HAVE IN A BAD ECONOMY! Senator Reid, President Obama, God, Jesus, the Easter Bunny, etc. is not to blame for this. The people of Nevada are to blame. Did they ever hear of the the word diversification? The rust belt is still struggling with this 20-30 years after they were hit with it (I should know I live in Illinois).
Angle is just like the rest of the tea partiers. Blame everyone else for your problems. Don't you dare look in the mirror and see who is really to blame. The farmer who takes huge subsidies every year and inflates the national debt. The banker who is a member of the U.S Chamber of Commerce who floated subprime morgages that got us into this mess. Nope, I'm not to blame. It's that muslim, hispanic, immigrant, non-white person who is wrecking this country. As a former boss of mine used to say: You are either part of the solution or not. Angle's part starts with a "P".
Reed looks like a very sucessful ambulance chaser,whoses still chasing. he also speaks and acts the part. Even thought i am of his era, I think he is really part of the problem and should have stepped down after all these years. We don't need people making careers out of the congress, because as time goes, they stop representing their constitueties(sp)'.
Yep, but the Democrats don't mind getting in "low blows" whenever they can. Just read some of the comments on The Ticker.
Why does CNN always try to save face for Harry Ried?
"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."
I've got no dog in this race, but that's a really good question. So good, in fact, that it should be asked of EVERY incumbent, regardless of political party.
Of course it is a low blow – what do you expect from someone down in the gutter – all she would know to say is something stupid, hateful or completely beneath most people . let's look at this from another angle and vote for Harry Reid
Americans have historically proven themselves to be willing to be burdened with actual facts on any issue. It makes their brains hurt. They are willing to let their "impressions" and "feelings" guide their intellects. Seems to me that's the Tea Party way – they create an evil "them" and then rant and rave about "them". "Them" is the problem...if we get rid of "them", we'll be better off. Sorta like 1939 Nazi Germany. Mr. Reid was a lawyer with a successful practice for decades...OF COURSE he's going to be moderately well off. But by lumping him in with "them", she's painted a target on his back – not for his politics, not for his character...but because he had the gumption to go to school, get a degree and work for decades. That makes him a "them" for all her supporters. Tea Party is about anger, dissatisfaction and disaffection. But an election campaign is a bad time to talk about the issues. It's all about perception at this point.
Reid need not worry. Democrat voters support coruption and encourage their lib masters to cheat, lie, and steal. These are the qualities that modern day Democrats support with admiration. The party of H.H and JFK has no morals or decency, I feel bad for the once decent Democrats to see their party transformed into pure evil.
There is no way to know where Sharron Angle stands on issues because she is all over the place. She says only what she believes people want to hear. If she has taken a stand on an issue, and people criticize it, the next time she speaks she has changed her view. How can people determine her true agenda? Mr. Reid calls her views extreme and I agree with him.
It's really pretty simple. If Nevada chooses to elect Angle, they will be the laughing stock of America. The woman lies, is bigoted and backtracks faster than a wayward jackrabbit on steroids. She outdoes Palin in so many negative ways that they are beyond counting. So, go for it Nevada – shine the bright lights of Vegas on your stupidity. Mississippi and South Carolina wil thank you for it.
If these fat pole cats had to live on the puny dab of SSI most seniors receive we'd hear a different tune in Washington.
Her insinuation that Reid had somehow illegitimately enriched himself was indeed a low blow. But it was pretty transparent and Reid answered her succinctly and directly, with no sign of hesitation. Angle tried a typical GOTP attack and it failed.
No major gaffes and u consider that a success frm the senate majority leader? if they are equally stupid then Angle deserves the position since Reid has been there so long and yet voters have such low expectations of him. Angle wins by default
No pay raise for social security again this year. No inflation.....My house insurance went up 40%, health insurance for my wife went up 50%, my property taxes went up 30% and for our government who says there is no inflation, been to McDonald's lately? .......why does the house and senate receive automatic pay raises every year?
Yes Mr Reid, how did you (and so many other politicians) become so wealthy? It seems a bit odd, does it not, for "public servants" to be as wealthy as they are while living on a "fixed income".
It is only a low blow when a Republican asks specific relevant questions. When a Democrat does it they are championed by the left. I have always wondered how both those on the right and left become so rich in politics. They need to advertise their investment firms so we can all cash in.
As terrorist Walk into our country, as taxes countinue to riise, as Health Care increases, as S.S. gets NO cost of living, as our Soilders keep dieing protecting mooslims, Congress gets a Raise, Harry gets more money in his pocket, Nancy flies around the world, obama vacations every week playing golf and sending wife on trips. Americans SUFFER...
It's time for this debate over Social Security to end once and for all. We need to accept Social Security as our obligation to support our senior citizens. We owe it to our society to help provide them with a level of comfort in their waning years. I have friends whose life savings were wiped out by investment scandals, starting over in their 60s. To trust everyone's retirement financial support to the private sector is just plain stupid. And if the Social Security fund is running short, then we need to increase the funding coming into it. If that means raising taxes to do it, then so be it. It's time for all of us to "man up" and support our senior citizens, generation after generation. It should be seen as an obligation of honor and respect. Anything less is an embarrassment!
Insider trading is prolific in Washington ,always has been because they're not going to police themselves.Most of the Washington investing is in government special interest corporations mining oil defense.Only one perfect example is Halliburton,and they are all sure bets,they can't lose , that is why you never hear of any Washington elite losing their fortune they are always ,without fail making one,and what is any average American without insider connections going to do or say about it ,nothing.Its really an insiders investment circle and often family oriented. Obama is not known as a financial genious yet IRS records over 5 million in profits first year in office,Reid ,Pelosi Feinstein,Cheney ,Bush,and dozens of multimillionaires minted in Congress constitute our lawmakers.
Funny how chicken lady Angle didn't mention how the recession was the result of Repugnican policies. I WONDER WHY?
Hmmm, not a low blow when the Demowits attack Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, and guess what demdolts, they earned their money in the free market not in Washington DC insider deals with lobbyists!
Sharron Angle attack on Reid wealth its not true he told every thing before
I watched report on CNN may be 2006 0r 2007 by Dana Bash about Sen. Harry Reid
Sharron Angle may be miss the report