This season's political debates have been full of stinging rhetoric, personal insults, and even one physical exchange — or a mild slap on the hand, depending on your point of view. Here are 6 of the 2010 election campaign's most heated moments captured on video:
1. Rand Paul vs. Jack Conway: "You demean the state of Kentucky"
"Whatever was left of the gloves in the heated Kentucky Senate race came off tonight," says Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo of Sunday's televised clash. Democrat candidate Jack Conway repeatedly attacked his Republican opponent's alleged misbehavior as a student at Baylor University, leading Paul to lash out: "You demean the state of Kentucky." He even refused to shake Conway's hand afterwards. "The main takeaway from the debate, adds McMorris-Santoro, "was the level of ugliness this closely-contested Senate race has reached."
2. Ryan Frazier vs. Ed Perlmutter: "Don't hit me, man"
Another October 17 debate, this time between Congressional rivals in Colorado, turned physical when the incumbent, Democrat Ed Perlmutter, tapped his opponent Ryan Frazier's hand during a heated debate on the health-care reform bill. "Don't hit me man, come on," Frazier said, prompting an apology. What a "liberal thug" Perlmutter is, says Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit. Oh come on, says Ann Althouse at her blog. Perlmutter's touch was "instinctive and not genuinely violent." It's "actually pretty friendly," and rather funny.
3. Christine O'Donnell vs. Chris Coons: "You're just jealous"
The October 14 debate between O'Donnell, the much-maligned Delaware GOP candidate, and the opponent she has derided as a "bearded Marxist" had no shortage of awkward moments, but none quite so cringeworthy as when talk turned to O'Donnell's controversial 1990s TV appearances. Coons said the media focus on such clips was a "distraction," to which O'Donnell replied, "You're just jealous you weren't on 'Saturday Night Live.'" Enough with the "strange one-liners," Christine, says John Sweeney in the Delaware News Journal. We need to hear about your policies, not "talk-show talking points."
4. Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: "Man up, Harry Reid"
The "ideological divide" between the Nevada Senate race rivals was apparent from the get-go in this charged October 13 debate, says Jon Ward at the Daily Caller. "Sharron Angle was every bit the hard-line conservative she has been portrayed to be. Harry Reid was just as stiff and pedestrian a communicator as he has always been." Angle's "attack dog" moment came when she challenged Reid's masculinity during a face-off about Social Security. "Man up Harry Reid!" she cried.
5. Jerry Brown vs. Meg Whitman: "The word 'whore' is not the N-word"
Tensions between the Californian gubernatorial candidates erupted on October 12 when it came to allegations that a member of Democrat Brown's campaign had referred to Whitman as a "whore." Brown apologized to Whitman during the debate, but drew audience gasps by saying that the word "whore" is less offensive than "the n-word." I actually think Brown is right, says Meghan Daum at the Los Angeles Times. "Whore" does have "connotations that are inherently degrading to women," but it's "bandied about indiscriminately."
6. Richard Blumenthal vs. Linda McMahon: "She has marketed sex and violence to children"
What began as a "public policy discussion" between the Connecticut senate candidates on October 12 turned into a series of "barbed" exchanges over character, says Daniela Altimari at The Baltimore Sun. Democrat Blumenthal repeatedly targeted McMahon's ties to the World Wrestling Entertainment franchise, claiming she "marketed sex and violence to children." It was a "good body slam," says Alex Altman at Time, but "plenty of voters are buying" McMahon's pitch for election this year.