The battle lines have been drawn in the Senate ad wars.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole is either a much-admired senator known for helping North Carolinians -- or an ineffective Washington insider who votes for big oil companies.
On the other side, rival Kay Hagan is either a hardworking state legislator with a record of balanced budgets -- or a tax-and-spend Democrat who can't stop fibbing about Dole.
The two campaigns and their national allies have run 20 ads so far, spending millions to get their messages out. And the pace is speeding up in a race that has turned out to be highly competitive.
Polls show that Hagan, a five-term state senator from Greensboro who has never run for statewide office before, has closed on Dole, who held a double-digit lead as recently as July.
Republican consultant Carter Wrenn, who is not working for Dole, credited a series of ads by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a Washington-based group, that attacked Dole's effectiveness in Washington.
In response, Dole has run ads defending her record and attacking Hagan. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has also stepped up its spending in North Carolina, though it does not have the money to match its Democratic counterpart.
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