Republican Joe Heck on Thursday questioned whether incumbent Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., has fought for what's best for Nevadans or just voted blindly along with her Democratic colleagues.
Heck noted that Titus has voted with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 97 percent of the time and has voted for "all the bills that have done nothing for the people of Southern Nevada," including the stimulus bill and health care reform.
Titus responded that she has "stood up to leadership."
"People know what I stand for," she said. "I always vote based on my conscience, my constituents and my country."
The exchange came during a portion of Thursday's debate in which the candidates for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District were allowed to question each other.
Titus took the opportunity to ask Heck about a 2005 vote, when Heck served in the Legislature, against offering a tax break to seniors.
"You voted no," she said. "You also sponsored a bill to give tax cuts to banks."
Heck said he had no recollection of the vote, but criticized Titus for supporting a past tax increase.
During their closing statements, the two candidates repeated the charges they've levelled at each other in previous debates.
Heck again asked voters, "Are you better off today than you were two years ago?" -- when Titus took office.
"We need a new direction in Washington," he said.
And Titus again said Heck "wants to return to the same failed policies that created this mess" -- an effort to depict him as a throwback to Republicans during the administration of George W. Bush.
Public opinion polls show Heck and Titus in a dead heat, and theirs is among the nation's most watched races for a House of Representatives seat.
EARLIER POST: 8:38 P.M.
Incumbent Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and her Republican challenger Joe Heck began their fourth debate since Saturday treading familiar territory.
Heck continued his ongoing effort to paint Titus as too willing to go along with government programs and again asked, "Are you better off today than you were two years ago?" -- when Titus took office.
And Titus again sought to depict Heck as a throwback to Republicans during the administration of George W. Bush.
"This so-called 'new direction' of my opponent is just a U-turn back to the old policies" that got us here, Titus said.
Thursday evening's one-hour debate was filmed in Vegas PBS' studios just an hour after a debate between U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and his challenger, Republican Sharron Angle, wrapped up.
Public opinion polls show Heck and Titus, the candidates for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, in a dead heat, and theirs is among the nation's most watched races for a House of Representatives seat.
The two candidates sparred on issues including Yucca Mountain, health care reform, the foreclosure crisis, jobs, Social Security and immigration and took questions submitted by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Titus touted the work she has done for Nevada, saying she has supported programs that help people refinance their home loans and avoid foreclosures, and supported the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"I don't know what Nevada would have done without it," she said of the act. "Just look at the jobs it has created."
Titus said the money helped save local construction and teacher jobs and that saving jobs is her job.
"If that is her job, she's failed," Heck said. He pointed to Nevada's unemployment rate as proof the stimulus money hasn't worked.
The two seemed to at least partially agree on the importance of maintaining Social Security, but Titus accused Heck of flip-flopping on the issue.
Heck called Social Security "a sacred trust."
"I will do nothing to take away the benefit" from those who have paid into it, he said.
Titus retorted, "I am astounded that my opponent is able to flip-flop on so many issues."
She said Heck has variously wanted to eliminate Social Security, privatize it or take money out of it.
Social Security "is one of the most successful government programs in the history of this country," she said.
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.