Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyCriminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship Trump's VP list shrinks Vernon wins Iowa House Dem primary MORE (D-Iowa) and Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) battled in their final debate Thursday, throwing each other's words back in their faces in a tit-for-tat roundtable that mirrored the race's hostile tenor.
The testiest exchanges in the debate featured the candidates throwing each other's talking points back at them.
"My boots were on the ground that is now held by ISIS. I take these decisions very seriously," Ernst, a combat veteran, fired back when Braley pressed her on whether she thought there should be renewed "boots on the ground" in Iraq.
After Ernst said she wanted to "scrap the IRS, let's start all over again," Braley argued that was what she wanted to do with many government agencies.
"Sen. Ernst's answer to everything is 'scrap it.' Scrap the IRS, get rid of it. Get rid of the Department of Education. Get rid of the EPA. Get rid of the Clean Water Act. Every solution she has is throwing darts at the board, trying to get rid of programs that have had significant impacts and made a difference in the lives of Iowans," he said.
Ernst also attacked Braley's reframe from earlier debates that "sound bites have consequences," using it to scold him for knocking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as a "farmer from Iowa who never went to law school" in a fundraiser nearly a year ago.
The two fired at one another over Ebola as well, with Ernst attacking Braley and President Obama for "failed leadership," calling them "reactive rather than proactive" in their response. Braley fired back at Ernst, saying she backed last year's government shutdown, and that it hurt health agencies.
"She supported a radical plan to shut down the federal government," Braley fired at Ernst, saying the government shutdown hurt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Health. "You can't say you support those things when the policies you're promoting would have made it more difficult for us to address this problem."
Polls have found a close race in the purple state, one of a handful that will decide Senate control next month. Ernst has had a narrow lead in most surveys.
—This post was last updated at 10:30 p.m.