It was a night of political jabs and potshots as Democrat Mike Easley and Republican Richard Vinroot squared off in their only live, televised debate.
From the beginning, both men made it clear that they want to take North Carolina in different directions.
"This election is about change, and I am prepared to take North Carolina forward," Easley says.
"I, like Gov. George Bush, believe that we need to have better government, not bigger government," says Vinroot.
Audience members wanted to know where the candidates stand on education. Vouchers were one of the key differences between the two.
"What could be fairer than letting those kids and their parents choose to opt out if those schools fail after a certain period of time," Vinroot says.
"It's an empty promise. Twelve counties in this state do not even have private schools so where would the children go," Easley says. "Twenty-five of them have 100 slots available so that doesn't work."
Both men held their ground on the issues, including where they stand on a prescription drug plan for seniors. The only surprises of the evening come in their sharp exchanges.
After the debate, voters said they feel more informed about the issues.
"It made my decision a lot easier for me," says voter Aurora Diaz Grubbs. "I knew I was going to vote for that person, and it became more confident for me."
Outside the State Capitol, other voices were heard.
Several supporters for Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe were speaking out about her exclusion from Thursday's debate. Since Howe did not receive enough support in the polls, she was not allowed to participate.
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