Unable to break free from each other in the polls, North Carolina’s Senate candidates played offense Tuesday in their second debate. Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, both used a specific weapon — numbers — to make their attacks clear.
With time running out before the Nov. 4 election, easy-to-understand numbers allowed the candidates to score political points in these tense exchanges during their one-hour encounter moderated by George Stephanopoulos of ABC News at the University of North Carolina Television studios in Research Triangle Park.
100 percent. Hagan continued her usual attacks on Tillis’s education and health care record, but also rebuked him for his stance on marriage.
The incumbent said she opposed a statewide ban on same-sex marriage, which the speaker said he would continue to defend in North Carolina despite the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up state challenges.
“He wants to talk about percentages,” Hagan said. “I want to talk about percentages: 100 percent of the time Speaker Tillis’s policies have hurt North Carolina.”
1/2. The Tillis campaign has accused Hagan of missing 27 of 50 committee meetings since 2012.
“For the last year you’ve sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and you’ve missed half the meetings,” Tillis said. “Where were you and why were other commitments more important?”
Unfortunately, Tillis confused Hagan’s committee assignment. She is on the Armed Services Committee, not Foreign Affairs.
82 cents. Hagan criticized Tillis for blocking a “paycheck fairness” bill as speaker and asked why he didn’t support equal pay legislation.
Tillis responded that laws already on the books covered women, and proceeded to list female relatives as evidence of his support for equal pay.
“Women in North Carolina earn 82 cents on the dollar,” Hagan retorted. “I didn’t raise my two daughters to think they were worth 82 cents on the dollar.”
96 percent. After Tillis said Hagan voted with President Obama most of the time, she was asked which of her votes she regretted. She failed to come up with one.
“Senator Hagan went to Washington, left Raleigh, turned her back on it, went to Washington and has voted with the president 96 percent of the time,” Tillis said.
24. Tillis has focused on Obamacare throughout the race, and did so in the debate. Hagan listed several changes she would make to Obamacare. Tillis blasted her anyway for telling North Carolinians, as Obama did, that they could keep their health insurance plans.
“Senator Hagan promised the people of North Carolina 24 different times if you like your doctor, you can keep it, if you like your health care, you can keep it,” Tillis said. “We know that promise is false.”