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Top Talking Points And New Discussions In Third Senate Debate


North Carolina Senate candidates met in Wilmington last night, for the final of three scheduled debates before the election. The candidates largely stuck to the talking points and attacks, which have become familiar during earlier debates and the 64,000 TV ads bought for the election.

Hagan criticized the state tax overhaul and budget, which Tillis oversaw, while Tillis hammered Hagan’s voting record as almost entirely aligned with President Obama.

“He has given tax cuts to the wealthy, gutted our education system,” said Senator Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent.

“Senator Hagan’s rubber stamping President Obama’s policies,” said state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, the Republican candidate.

For the most part, even new topics ended in familiar territory. This week, the Supreme Court allowed some state bans on same-sex marriage to be overturned, so Speaker Tillis and state Senate leader Phil Berger hired a lawyer to defend North Carolina’s ban. Hagan, who supports same sex marriage, attacked the cost, which the Associated Press prices at $400 an hour.

“Speaker Tillis is wasting your taxpayer dollars on further litigating a law that pretty much the Supreme Court has said, ‘Leave it alone,’” said Hagan.

“I swore an oath to uphold the laws of the state of North Carolina, the citizens voted 60 percent for this law, that’s why I’m doing my job,” said Tillis. “If Senator Hagan would do her job, show up for committee meetings, not be a rubber stamp to President Obama, I might not be running for the U.S. Senate right now.”

Tillis used the rubber stamping talking point 11 separate times, for a grand total of 36 across all three debates, according to a WFAE count. Hagan accused Tillis of slashing education on five occasions, which brought her overall debate tally to 18.

Other repeated points:

--Tillis brought up "Obamacare" twice, for a total of 14.

--Hagan said Tillis cut taxes for the wealthy four times. Total mentions: 13.

--Tillis alluded to Hagan missing more than half of Senate Armed Services committee meetings four times. Total: 8.

--Three times, Hagan said the North Carolina Speaker fought an equal pay for women bill, for seven total mentions across the debates.

Each candidate once again attacked the other for skipping official meetings for fundraising events, and both mostly ignored their other opponent on the stage, Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh, who positioned himself as the protest vote.

“No matter how well I do in November, win or lose, however many votes I get, that is a message to the Democrats and Republicans,” said Haugh. “That they’re going to have to care more about liberty, that they’re going to have to become more peaceful.”

The candidates had two areas of agreement—all supported federal funds for dredging along the North Carolina coast, while both Hagan and Tillis reaffirmed their support for cutting off flights from West Africa in response to the Ebola outbreak, which runs counter to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s position.