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Texas Senate hopefuls trade barbs in heated debate

Published On: Oct 03 2012 07:58:58 AM CDT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -

The two candidates vying for Texas' open U.S. Senate seat are trading repeated and increasingly heated barbs during their first debate.

Former Democratic state Rep. Paul Sadler and his heavily favorite opponent, tea party backed Republican Ted Cruz, squared off Tuesday night at the WFAA-TV studios in Dallas.

Sadler called Cruz inexperienced and said one of Cruz's claims about entitlement programs was "the craziest thing I've ever heard."

Cruz responded by saying that he admired Sadler's courage for "running an unapologetically liberal campaign." The former state solicitor general also said Sadler would consider raising taxes on "every single Texan who pays income taxes."

Moderators then struggled to prevent open back-and-forth bickering.

A poll released before the debate by a nonpartisan group showed Cruz leading Sadler by 26 percentage points.