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Live-blogging the Nevada Senate debate

9:58 ET: That's all for the Nevada Senate debate. The candidates seemed uncomfortable throughout, with Angle struggling with some of the more involved policy questions and Reid speaking as though he was talking about legislative details in the Senate chamber instead of bread-and-butter issues that Nevada voters can relate to.

Angle did score some zingers ("Man up, Harry Reid") and stayed on message. Reid did not appear prepared, even fumbling with his written notes before his closing statement, but he delivered a firm defense of Democratic legislation passed on his watch. But the awkwardness of the debate was likely its most noteworthy characteristic.

We'll see what the voters decide at the ballot box in less than three weeks. (By the way, Nevada has a "None of these candidates" option on its ballot. This close race could come down to the percentage of voters who are so turned off by these candidates that they check that box.)

Thanks for following along.

9:57 ET: Angle closing statement: "People ask me why I smile so much. It's because I'm an optimist."

9:56 ET: Reid's closing statement: I am for the middle class. "I'm a fighter ... We have a long way to go but we have made some progress."

9:53 ET: Businesses are waiting for answers on the Bush tax cuts, Angle says. "We need to give them confidence by making tax cuts permanent."

9:51 ET: Angle demands to know how Reid made money on a legislator's salary. "That's really a low blow," Reid retorts, adding that he made money not as a senator but as a lawyer before his career in Congress.

9:50 ET: Reid slips and calls Angle "my friend" in his answer to a question about the Bush tax cuts. That's Senate speak -- how lawmakers refer to each other on the floor, often when they are disagreeing the most vehemently.

9:47 ET: Angle is asked about an audio tape obtained by Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston in which she offers a third-party candidate political "juice" and access to high-profile GOPers in Washington if he endorses her. "What I offered was the access to government that all people want" in their congressional representatives, Angle says.

9:46 ET: "You need to apologize to them," Angle tells Reid re: troops abroad. Reid counters that Angle wants to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs.

9:44 ET: Moderator questions Reid on his infamous statement on Iraq that "the war is lost." Reid says that he made that statement after speaking to Petraeus (his "friend") and that the surge was the right thing to do.

9:42 ET: Angle says that states should "take their 10th amendment rights" and move education policy-making as close to the local level.

9:40 ET: Moderator asks Angle about her statements on education funding. On the Department of Education, she says, "It's an agency that makes one-size-fits-all policies that fit no one."

9:39 ET: "I've always voted against making Nevada the nuclear waste dump of the nation," Angle says, but adds that new technology makes that unnecessary. "We should be looking into nuclear energy."

9:38 ET: "Yucca Mountain is not good for the country and it's really bad for Nevada," Reid says. Important local issue in the state.

9:35 ET: The candidates are having a debate about what the Congressional Budget Office has estimated about Social Security solvency.

"There you go again, trying to hedge on this idea..." Angle retorts.

9:34 ET: "These ideas of my opponent are really extreme," Reid says. That's three.

9:33 ET: "Social Security is a promise we need to keep," Reid says. Angle responds that her opponent needs to understand its solvency issues. "Man up, Harry Reid," she says.

9:31 ET: Ouch. Reid: "I respectfully suggest to my opponent that she just doesn't understand what happened in Washington" with Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation. Angle counters that she knows how the process works and that legislators should "read the bill first."

9:29 ET: Reid praises the court's role in government, even when he disagrees with rulings. "When they ruled [on Bush v. Gore], Bush immediately became my president. There were no broken windows."

9:28 ET: Angle says she admires Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Says she wouldn't have voted for Elena Kagan because she doesn't "understand the Constitution."

9:27 ET: Asked to name a Supreme Court justice he admires, Reid names one with whom he disagrees - Justice Antonin Scalia. "He is a masterful mind," he says. Also one-time College Hall of Fame football player Whizzer White.

9:26 ET: Reid says Angle's plan for jobs is "extreme." That's twice -- how many more times will he use that phrase to describe her?

9:25 ET: "My job is to create policies to let the private sector do what they do best" and create jobs, Angle says.

9:22 ET: Neither candidate seems at ease, lots of stuttering answers. NBC's Chuck Todd points out on Twitter that there's a clear ideological difference between the candidates, but it might be a little tough to see through the sheer awkwardness of both candidates.

9:21 ET: Moderator asks Reid if Obama and Bush both should receive equal blame for the nation's economic woes. "Of course not," the Senate Majority Leader replies.

9:18 ET: Angle: "Pink ribbons will not make people have a good insurance plan."

9:17 ET: Insurance companies "have almost destroyed our economy," Reid argues. He says that insurance companies must be forced to cover mammograms and prostate colon cancer screenings. Mentions Breast Cancer Awareness month.

9:16 ET: Angle: "America is a country a choices, not of forcing people to buy things they don't need."

9:15 ET: Reid takes a swipe at Angle's recent comments about autism. "That's really extreme," Reid says.

9:15 ET: Angle says that the free market can solve the problems of the health insurance industry.

9:12 ET: Next question is about health care, and why legislators chose to tackle the reform effort in light of the dire economy. Reid: "We had to do health insurance reform to maintain competitive[ness] in the world economy." ... "Health insurance reform creates jobs."

9:11 ET: Both candidates say English should be the official language of the United States. Angle says she would support a constitutional amendment to mandate that; Reid says that English is "already the official language."

9:10 ET: "Harry Reid has voted to give Social Security to illegal aliens," Angle says, asked to back up that claim in an ad. Here's what nonpartisan organization Politifact called the ad "barely true."

9:10 ET: Angle on immigration: "We should be supporting Arizona, not suing Arizona." She also praises controverisal Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

9:08 ET: First question is on immigration. Reid: "We have to look at the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. We cannot ignore it."

9:06 ET: Angle, in opening statement, says that the debate will show the "contrast" between her and Reid. Says that Reid "lives in the Ritz Carlton in Washington."

9:04 ET: Reid's comment on jobs was a response to Angle's statement that it wouldn't be "her job" to create jobs. Here's an ad that Reid cut using those words against her.

9:04 ET: Reid: "My number one job is to create jobs as a United States senator."

9:02 ET: Reid begins his opening statement, reminding viewers of his humble upbringing in tiny Searchlight, Nevada.

9:00 ET: We're on the air. You can watch the live stream, courtesy of C-SPAN, here.

8:55 ET: We're almost underway. Worth noting: Angle has notably restricted the access of the state and national press, answering few questions from reporters about her campaign in recent months. She told FOX's Carl Cameron in August that she "needed the press to be our friend" and said that she only wanted to speak with reporters who ask favorable questions. But that attitude has not held back her fundraising ability; she announced this week that she brought in a staggering $14 million in the third fundraising quarter.

8:45 p.m. ET: It's one of the midterm cycle's most anticipated events -- the only debate between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tea Party-backed Republican challenger Sharron Angle. The Nevada Senate race is one of the closest in the country, with a series of recent polls showing the candidates virtually deadlocked.

Reid, the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, was so unpopular in his economically hard-hit home state that most observers considered him a lame duck before the June 8 primary. But when a little-known former state legislator defeated GOP favorite Sue Lowden for the Republican nomination, the state suddenly had a heck of a race on its hands.

Both candidates have shown a penchant for verbal gaffes in the past, and Reid has taken pains to highlight the extremely conservative (and occasionally wacky) policy positions voiced by his GOP competitor.

Will Angle appear senatorial? Will Reid avoid appearing out-of-touch with the needs of regular voters? We'll keep you up to date with the latest from Las Vegas here in this space. The debate starts at 9 p.m. ET, so tune in.