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Baldwin, Thompson spar over health care, taxes and service records in 2nd U.S. Senate debate

CREATED Oct 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 18, 2012

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  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

  • Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are meeting for their second debate in the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat. Image by tmj4.com

Click here for programming notes for pre-empted NBC shows.

MADISON- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson says he wants to protect Medicare, despite campaign attack ads that show him saying no one was better to end it.

Thompson said in Thursday's debate with Democrat Tammy Baldwin that he wants to create a system that allows people to choose Medicare or the federal insurance program that is offered to members of Congress.  He says Baldwin wants to "allow the federal government to direct your hospital, your doctor, your pharmacy. She does not believe that Obamacare went far enough."

The exchange early in their second of three debates became heated with Thompson extolling Baldwin to tell the truth about her record. Baldwin retorted that she was speaking truthfully.

Baldwin also went after Thompson's decision after leaving public office in 2005 to work for a high-powered Washington law firm. Numerous attack ads in the race have targeted Thompson's career in the private sector making millions.

Thompson says Baldwin is on the extreme side of the Democratic Party and her positions would lead to higher taxes and not create jobs.

Thompson was governor for 14 years but hasn't been on the ballot in Wisconsin since 1998. That is the same year that Baldwin was first elected to Congress representing the Madison area.

Polls show the race for Wisconsin's open Senate seat to be a dead heat.