INDIANAPOLIS - It wasn't a great Friday for Senate candidate Evan Bayh.
Two of the state's largest newspapers endorsed his opponent, and the Associated Press released a new report detailing how infrequently he visited his residence in Indiana.
In the video above, IndyStar opinions editor Tim Swarens discusses the Star's decision to endorse Republican Todd Young.
In what has become one of the most watched U.S. Senate races in the country, Bayh, Young, and Libertarian Lucy Brenton faced-off for 60 minutes in a race that will help determine which party controls the Senate.
“Clearly Congressman Young is getting pretty desperate,” Bayh said. “It’s not true I was for cap and trade. I’m against cap and trade. It’s not true that I’ve ever been a lobbyist. It’s simply not true.”
Bayh has been fighting the accusations from Young since he entered the race, questions swirling about his ties to Indiana and his work for Washington D.C. firms.
“Evan Bayh cast the deciding vote for Obamacare,” Young said. “We would not have Obamacare ladies and gentleman but for Bayh. With respect to being a lobbyist? Ok. He’s a partner at a lobbying firm. Maybe they pay him $2 million not to lobby.”
A number of the issues facing Hoosiers and American voters were raised Tuesday evening at the WFYI studios in downtown Indianapolis, including trade, the Affordable Care Act and gun control.
“Hoosiers can count on me to protect their gun rights most certainly,” Young said. “Your gun rights will be jeopardized should Evan Bayh become the next U.S. Senator from Indiana.”
Bayh, as he did throughout the debate, quickly disputed the claims from Young.
“It’s just not true what Congressman Young was saying,” Bayh said. “I support your second amendment right to bear arms, and unless you are a known terrorist, have been convicted in a crime of a violent felony or adjudicated to be insane, you’ve got no trouble from me.”
The end of the debate indicated what will proceed in the final days along the campaign trail.
“Where did you go Evan?” Young turned and said. “Where did you go? You took the money and ran.”
“Well he’s just flat out wrong when he said…” Bayh quickly tried to clarify.
Minutes later, all three candidates appeared before the press, taking several post-debate questions.
“I don’t remember the whole litany,” Bayh said about Young. “He seemed like he was kind of losing it there at the end and that kind of thing.”
“I don’t apologize for my passion, my conviction on behalf of Hoosiers and their families,” Young responded minutes later.
For her part, Brenton physically stepped away from the two in her final remarks.
“They’re slinging so much mud,” she said. “And I’m wearing a white suit.”
Meantime, more big money could be fueling this race to the finish line.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Monday that the Democratic presidential candidate is pledging $500,000 toward Indiana’s gubernatorial race and the U.S. Senate showdown between Todd Young and Evan Bayh.
The move is a subtle sign from Clinton that she’s confident she’ll be elected, and a key political move, in trying to turn the U.S. Senate toward Democratic control. Bayh is a long-time Clinton ally.
Democrats need to flip just a handful of Senate seats to be successful, likely the motivation for the late attention to Indiana.
The money will be used for voter mailers and ads.
“It’s surprising given that the Clinton campaign did not invest here in the primary, but it’s not surprising considering the environment that we’re in right now,” said Jennifer Wagner, former spokeswoman for the Indiana Democratic Party.
If Democrats get charge of the U.S. Senate, a potential president Clinton would encounter less resistance.
“It would be much easier for her to implement her agenda, if she had support in Congress,” said Wagner.
It’s a worst-cast scenario for Republicans, as polls continue to show Clinton winning the race.
“It’s the worst of all worlds quite frankly,” said Mike Murphy, a GOP strategist, “If the Democrats get control of both the presidency and U.S. Senate, Katy bar the door, because it’ll be liberal government for decades.
Murphy said that’s because the Senate confirms U.S. Supreme Court Justice, along with treaties and cabinet appointments.
A poll last week from Monmouth University showed Evan Bayh with a six point lead over Todd Young.
The Clinton money will also go into ads for John Gregg in the governor’s race, who in a poll last week from Monmouth University was up 12 points over Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb.
Holcomb’s campaign Monday acknowledged the Clinton funds but maintained the governor’s race is tighter than that poll reveals.
"I don’t think even Democrats think those numbers are legitimate,” said Pete Seat, with Holcomb for Indiana, “This is a tight margin-of-error race. We put out an internal poll showing it is tied 42 to 42.”