During his brief closing statement Thursday evening, Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid said his Republican opponent Sharron Angle "favors big banks" and is "against Wall Street reform."
"I have a different philosophy," Reid said. "I am for the middle-class."
Reid said Angle "mocks" renewable energy jobs such as those he has fought to bring to Nevada.
"I'm a fighter," Reid said in closing. "I will continue to do everything I can for the people of Nevada."
Angle took a folksier approach to her closing statement.
"People often ask my why I smile so much," she said. "It's because I'm an optimist."
Angle said that, "with God's help, we the people" have solutions to today's problems. She again mentioned paying down debt, lower taxes, less government regulation and more individual freedom.
She closed by asking voters for their support.
EARLIER POST: 6:55 P.M.
Speaking about education during Thursday evening's debate, Republican Sharron Angle said it was "totally incorrect" that she wanted to abolish Head Start and other programs for low-income and disabled children.
But educational policies would better serve children if they were designed at the local, rather than federal, level, she said.
The federal Department of Education "makes one-size-fits-all policies that fit no one," she said. "The quality of our education has diminished year after year after year" since the department's inception, she said.
Her opponent, , defended the department, saying it has helped reduce the amount of interest parents have to pay for children's loans and has brought millions to "our university system."
"We need to protect the Department of Education," he said.
EARLIER POST: 6:43 P.M.
Republican Sharron Angle on Thursday insisted she doesn't think unemployed people are spoiled, no matter what Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid's campaign ads may say.
"No, I don't think our unemployed are spoiled, and that was totally mischaracterized by my opponent," Angle said during Thursday evening's debate between the two.
Angle said her job as a U.S. senator would be to encourage the private sector "to do what they do best ... and that is to create jobs."
In turn, Reid said it is his No. 1 job to bring more jobs to Nevada. He has worked to bring renewable energy and other jobs to the state, he said.
"My job is to create jobs," he said. "What she's talking about is extreme."
The two also sparred about the nation's foreclosure crisis that has hit Nevada particularly hard.
"The fact is I've worked hard to help beleaguered Nevada homeowners," Reid said, adding that he has pressured lenders to halt foreclosures.
"We have to do more, of course," he said. But "they won't be able to do to us ... what they've done before" because of Wall Street reform.
Angle said "the housing bubble" was caused a long time before the current recession, and that Reid and others have refused to deal with it.
"This problem has been going on ever since (Reid) has been in leadership," she said.
EARLIER POST: 6:29 P.M.
Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid spent his opening statement Thursday evening touting what he's done for Nevada while his Republican challenger Sharron Angle pointed to the differences between the two.
"I'm not a career politician," Angle said during the candidates' only scheduled debate. "I'm a mother and a grandmother. I live in a middle class neighborhood ... Senator Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C."
Reid said he has worked to reduce taxes for small businesses, reform Wall Street and help homeowners who are underwater in their mortgages.
"My No. 1 job is to create jobs as a United States senator," he said.
The first questions asked by moderator Mitch Fox concerned immigration, which has been a hot-button issue in the race.
Fox challenged Angle on the veracity of her ads against Reid on the issue. The ads claim Reid voted to give illegal immigrants Social Security benefits.
Angle again insisted Reid has voted thusly, to give "Social Security to illegal aliens ... not only after they become citizens but before."
Reid responded that Angle had not answered the questions.
"Everything she said in that ad is false," he said. "It's not true."
Angle said the answer to illegal immigration is simple: secure the border and enforce the law.
Reid said comprehensive immigration reform is the answer.
EARLIER POST: 6:05 P.M.
A crowd of about 200 gathered outside the television studio shortly before the 6 p.m. kickoff of the one and only debate in the most closely watched political race in the nation.
About twice as many supporters of Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid showed up than for his Republican challenger Sharron Angle, who will face off live in tonight's hourlong debate to be televised on Vegas PBS, many stations across Nevada and nationally on C-SPAN.
The supporters ignored cordoned off sections of the parking lot set up for them and instead lined Flamingo Road near McLeod Drive, carrying signs and chanting "Angle! Angle! Angle!" or "Vote for Harry, not Scary!"
Members of the media also were out in force, including press from across the United States, France, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.
The security detail outside the studio on Flamingo Road near McLeod Drive included dozens of local and federal police officers. Several security checkpoints were set up in the studio's parking lot. On Sept. 22, a fight broke out among partisan audience members at a forum at a local Christian school, where Angle appeared live and Reid appeared via pre-taped video.
Reid and Angle have clearly telegraphed their strategies ahead of the debate.
Reid is expected to focus on Angle's shifting stances on popular government programs such as Social Security, while she likely will deflect his attacks as a distraction from the No. 1 voter concern: Nevada's worst-in-the-nation economy, including its record 14.4 percent jobless rate.
Most analysts believe the hotly contested race could go either way.
The high stakes of tonight's debate were highlighted in a new poll released Thursday that for the first time since Angle won the GOP primary showed her edging out Reid.
The poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow showed Angle with 47 percent support compared with 45 percent for Reid. That's within the margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Another 4 percent were undecided, 2 percent chose other candidates and 2 percent "none."
Tonight's debate is the only one upon which the two candidates could agree, mostly because it's a neutral forum and Angle had insisted she wouldn't debate after early voting had begun because she wanted an "informed electorate."
The debate is sponsored by the Nevada Broadcasters Association and will be moderated by Mitch Fox of Vegas PBS.
Around 4 p.m., Fox wandered around the studio with broadcasters association President Bob Fisher.
"I'm kind of wandering around looking at the circus," Fox said. "I've got my camera. This is history."
Fisher said that both the Reid and Angle campaigns got permission to hold rallies in designated areas of the studio's parking lot. He said a church group also flew in from New York "to hold a prayer for Angle before the debate. They came by yesterday to check out the building," Fisher said. "We're got people from both sides who will be out there."
There were eight unarmed Army National Guardsmen in the building .
Fisher said they were not in the building to provide security, but to help with check-in of guests and media, two at each entrance.
He said the guards also provided such check-in service at a gubernatorial debate four years ago. He said the guard has a marketing relationship with the association.
"They have been my partners for 16 years," Fisher said of the National Guard. "They are not here for security. They're here to help check-in people."
Review-Journal writers Laura Myers, Henry Brean and Kristi Jourdan contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at email@example.com or 702-383-0285.