At roughly the half way point, both candidates were holding their own.
Angle seemed reasonable (not extreme) and slightly aggressive. Reid seemed a little irked but was clearly trying to remain patient and explain facts and figures.
The “Round One” edge goes to Angle by a tad, perhaps, because many viewers were watching just to see if she made any major gaffes or would live up (or down) to the “extreme meme” the Reid campaign has been pushing. She did neither.
In addition, the first two questions of the debate were about immigration and health care policy so Reid was at a slight disadvantage as he defended those policies.
In the beginning of the second half of the debate, Reid touted his accomplishments on the financial crisis, while Angle said it was not enough and called for an audit of the federal reserve. She also said not enough was done on Freddie and Fannie.
The two continued to spar on policy issues for the remainder of the debate, exchanging jabs Nevada voters have heard many times.
Angle said she does not support federal oversight of education by the Department of Education, but instead favors more local control. Reid told voters Angle supports abolishing the department and used it as one of many opportunities to call her positions “extreme.”
Angle also said she thinks the military should set DADT policy, while Reid defended his choice to offer that amendment up on the Senate floor.
The two debated the financial history of Social Security and whether or not the system is solvent. Angle kept talking about the raiding of the fund, and how the retirement plan of federal employees — including Reid’s — is so much better than the entitlement system.
On Yucca Mountain, Reid opposed the project as he always has. Angle agreed Nevada should not be a “dump” but said we should not “demonize” the nuclear energy industry. She also referenced Reid’s past comment that “coal makes us sick,” defending clean coal and other energy technologies.
The two disagreed over Reid’s “war is lost comments, Angle saying Reid owes veterans an apology for his lack of support. Reid defended by saying he has been endorsed by the largest veteran’s group in the country and said Petraeus is “my friend.”
Reid also called Angle “my friend” twice during the debate, a nice-ism often used on the Senate floor but which came off a little strangely when applied to Angle.
On the issue of taxes, Reid said he supported middle class tax cuts and would look at tax cuts for “billionaires” later. Angle said, “We can’t trust you with our taxes.”
Angle also surprised when she asked Reid how he became so wealthy on a senator’s salary. Reid seemed peeved and called it a “low blow,” saying he made his money in the private sector.
True, but Angle’s remarks might resonate with a dissatisfied and struggling electorate who does not want to believe they are being ruled over by fat-cat politicians.
All in all, in the second half, Angle again looked just fine, which perhaps gives her the edge because she exceeded expectations.
More analysis and updates soon, as well as a round-up of what others are saying about the debate.