Welcome to our live blog of tonight’s North Carolina Senate debate! The showdown between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis is set to begin soon. We’ll be live blogging all of the great moments so be sure to stick around.
ONE THING TO WATCH TONIGHT from ABC News Political Director RICK KLEIN: The extent to which the news cycle has changed the contours of the campaign. This week has generated big headlines on Ebola and gay marriage, just to cite two storylines getting major coverage in North Carolina and beyond. Thom Tillis sees an upside in talking about national issues; Kay Hagan has sought to keep the focus domestic. All campaigns chase headlines. But some of the stories now developing don’t have obvious political implications – at least not yet.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN reports: Just in from a Democratic source who tracks media buys – according to this source, the National Republican Senatorial Committee hasn’t booked any airtime in North Carolina over the race’s final three weeks. The buys could come later, and there’s plenty of outside help, but it’s worth remembering the frustration in some GOP circles about the fact that Tillis hasn’t had the same kind of campaign success many of his fellow challengers have had, at least yet…
Sen. Hagan, in her opening statement, casts herself as a “voice that will stand up for the middle class,” accusing Speaker Tillis of promoting a “destructive agenda” in the state house
“We need a senator who knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet,” Speaker Tillis says in his opening remarks
Hagan come out swinging about Tillis’ views on the key foreign policy issue of the moment: “He is spineless on what he would do to take ISIS out”
After a series of attacks from his opponent on the issue of education funding, Tillis swats back: “Senator Hagan needs to spend time in North Carolina and understand the good things we are doing for our teachers and our students"
“Speaker Tillis wants to make this race about the president,” Hagan says when asked by Stephanopoulos if she agrees with President Obama’s recent remark: “I am not on the ballot this fall. … But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot -- every single one of them"
Tillis reminds viewers about the initial failures of the Affordable Care Act website, “Do you know how much it cost for that website now? $2 billion.”
“A strong nation needs a strong border,” Tillis says when the conversation turns to immigration issues, “We need to get serious about sealing the border.”
Hagan hits back: “I don’t think Speaker Tillis understands the definition of amnesty.”
Tillis, expressing support for travel ban from those in Ebola-stricken countries: “The president doesn’t know what to do yet – I know the CDC is working hard, I don’t know they’re working smart.”
Hagan on a travel ban: “I am open to it,” adding that she could see herself supporting a “broad range” of solutions to the current global health crisis
Here's a look at the debate spin wars taking place on Twitter tonight -- from both sides:
Moderator George Stephanopoulos asks: “On which issue would you take on your party’s leadership?”
“Hard to say,” Tillis says.
Hagan: “The Keystone pipeline.”
“Senator Hagan and I have very different vision for America,” Tillis says in his closing statement as tonight’s debate winds down
Summing up a key campaign talking point, Tillis leaves voters of North Carolina with this thought: “A vote for Senator Hagan is a vote for President Obama’s failed policies.”
And that's a wrap from North Carolina, thanks for watching the debate with us! And in case the hour-long session left you with any lingering questions...
A GOP strategist offers up this post-debate thought via e-mail: "Tonight's debate made it clear that when the topic national security, Sen. Hagan can¹t defend her record and won’t break with President Obama. That’s why Tillis has the momentum in this race right now."