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Senator Kay Hagan and House Speaker Thom Tillis met for the first of three debates on Wednesday.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina is accusing Republican challenger House Speaker Thom Tillis of taking the state backward by supporting tax cuts over help for students and women. Speaker Tillis says Hagan would be a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama, an approach he says doesn't work in the state.

The two clashed Wednesday night in the first of three debates in a key battleground in the fight for Senate control. Tillis is one of the GOP's top prospects for helping gain the six seats required to win the majority. Two months before the election, polling suggests that the race is a toss-up.

READ: Breaking Down The N.C. Senate Race

"People in this country are suffering. Our nation is less safe. The president has failed on foreign policy. Two Americans have been beheaded over the last couple of weeks and the president's response to that was he has no strategy yet. That's a failure of leadership and it's leadership Kay Hagan has rubber-stamped over the last 6 years," said Speaker Tillis.

READ: Sen. Hagan Holds Slight Edge In Race Against Rep. Thom Tillis

Senator Hagan said, "Putting middle class first, so we can have the economy that will work for everyone and Speaker Tillis, who is constantly deciding with the special interest, with the wealthy. The fact that, as I've said, he cut education and gave tax cuts to the wealthy, and gutted out education system."

The candidates will meet for two more debates before the November election.

Speaker Thom Tillis speaks with WFMY News 2 after the first debate with Senator Hagan.

Senator Kay Hagan talks with WFMY News 2 after her first debate with Thom Tillis.

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The first of three planned debates between Senator Kay Hagan and Speaker Thom Tillis was on Wednesday.

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